National Award winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua has decided to withdraw his film from the 8th Assam State Film Awards and this year’s film festival in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with 125 votes in support, while 105 MPs voted against it. Lok Sabha had cleared the bill on Monday.
Barua’s film Bhoga Khirikee (Broken Window), produced by actor Priyanka Chopra and released in October last year, was set to take part at the event scheduled between December 26 and December 27 in Guwahati. “This bill should not have happened,” the filmmaker had said on Tuesday. “We believed the leadership, but they are not trying to understand us. In such a situation, I do not want to participate in such a programme.”
Barua said that the Assamese community will cease to exist 50 to 100 years after amendments to the citizenship law are implemented as the people were language-centric. The filmmaker blamed political leaders for triggering the current situation. “Since Independence, Assam’s fate and future has been in the hands of Delhi,” he told The Indian Express. “Assamese society has disintegrated. Who is responsible? Only the leaders are.”
Among other artistes who voiced their opposition to the bill include filmmaker Rima Das and actors Barsha Rani Bishaya and Jatin Bira, among others.
Barua’s dissent for the draft law came amid intense protests in Assam and Tripura against the bill’s passage in Parliament. Officials said indefinite curfew was imposed in Guwahati and Dibrugarh district from Wednesday until further orders were passed in the matter.
Stones were pelted at Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s home, and protestors also vandalised the homes of two BJP leaders and a Union minister. The Assam government suspended mobile internet in ten districts, including the state capital, for 24 hours starting 7 pm Wednesday.