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Screening of ‘Ram ke Naam’ documentary disrupted by a VHP activist in Hyderabad

Ahead of the Ram temple inauguration in Ayodhya, the screening of a documentary on the Ramjanmabhumi movement to build the Ram temple on the site of Babri Masjid named ‘Ram ke Naam’, was disrupted in Sainikpuri, Hyderabad. The screening was reportedly disturbed by right-wing activists leading to the arrest of two organizers and a cafe owner, on Saturday night. 

Hyderabad Cinephiles, a movie enthusiasts’ group had organized the screening of the 1992 documentary, which explores the campaign waged by the right-wing activists and its culmination in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, just two days before the Ram Temple inauguration in Ayodhya. The club of film enthusiasts regularly showcases parallel cinema and documentaries in the city. 

However, the screening of ‘Ram ke Naam’, sparked protests with accusations of ‘offending religious sentiments’. The complaint filed by one Ruthvik Pandrangi, reportedly said that he had visited the cafe with his friends. Calling the screening “illegal”, he claimed that such activities are an attempt to “create a communal issue” ahead of the temple’s consecration on Monday, January 22.

As per reports, about an hour after the screening started, a group of right-wing activists gathered near the location and attempted to disrupt the screening by vandalizing the venue, and later the police arrived.

Pandrangi, who is a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – the organization which led the Ram Janmabhoomi movement — alleged that the organizers’ discussion was against Hinduism and that they made derogatory statements against the VHP.

The First Investigation Report (FIR) filed at the Neredmet police station reportedly mentioned that Pandrangi grew suspicious as he found a few “men with beards” at the venue.

“A few more men showed up along with three to four policemen. The police detained seven people, including three women. The police questioned the motive behind screening such movies. We argued that it is within our rights to view the documentary, which is an essential part of history,” a participant told The News Minute

At present Anand Singh, Parag Varma and Srujan, are in custody charged with sections 290 (Public nuisance), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts to outrage the religious feelings) read with section 34 (criminal act done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

A similar incident is reported to have occurred a few years ago, wherein the Hyderabad police stopped the screening of the aforementioned documentary at the University claiming that the students had not taken permission from the university administration to screen it. 

The award-winning documentary by Anand Patwardhan has made headlines as it meticulously traces the journey of the 1990s Ram Janmabhoomi movement and skillfully captures the reality of India’s history. It explores the political dynamics behind the demolition of Babri Masjid, the role played by the authorities, and the construction of the Ram temple at the demolished site. The documentary has been subject to censorship multiple times although no restrictions have been placed legally. Noticeably, Doordarshan had aired the documentary in 1996 during prime time.

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