Padma Bhushan Barua (Express archive photo)
With Assam in the midst of vociferous protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, National award-winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua has registered his opposition to the Bill by deciding not to participate in the 8th Assam State Film Awards and Film Festival, 2019 which is scheduled to take place on December 26 and 27 in Guwahati. Barua, one of Assam’s leading filmmakers, is withdrawing his film ‘Bhoga Khirikee’ (Broken Window) from being screened at the festival.
‘Bhoga Khirikee’, was produced by actor Priyanka Chopra and released October last year.
“People don’t realize the implications this Bill can have fifty years later. It is dangerous and that’s why I have decided to withdraw my film,” said Barua, over the phone from Mumbai. “We are a society where language is one of the main drivers — and this Bill will lead to the destruction of language and culture of Assam in the next 50 to 100 years.”
Padma Bhushan Barua blamed the leaders and politicians for creating this situation. “The politicians are to blame. Since independence Assam’s fate and future has been in the hands of Delhi,” he says. “Assamese society has disintegrated. Who is responsible? Only the leaders are.”
One of the main protests was led by a group of artistes in Guwahati — attended by big names from the film industry. “I don’t have to prove my love for my community. All I am saying is that that if my community is affected, so will my language. And if my language is affected, then there is no meaning in being an artist,” said Assamese actress Barsha Rani Bishaya, who was part of the protest. Other celebrities like Jatin Bora, Rima Das and Zubeen Garg have also voiced their opinion against the Bill.
The Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha yesterday, seeks to give Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis entering India on or before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
While parts of Assam, which under the Sixth Schedule, have been exempted from the Bill, the Assamese believe that the Bill will accelerate illegal immigration from Bangladesh and thereby destroy the indigenous Assamese population, overhauling their language and culture.