We, independent cultural workers, academics, activists and concerned Indian citizens living in Berlin, and supporting organisations and individuals in solidarity, hereby state our official protest against the willing platforming and screening of Vivek Agnihotri’s film “The Kashmir Files”, by prominent cultural institutions in Berlin such as Babylon. We express dissent with his public appearances in Berlin.
Agnihotri, a known enabler of Hindu fascism and instigator of communal violence in India, has pivoted his career and profited from making factually incorrect and historically revisionist films that directly mobilize for and support the ongoing genocidal and anti-minority policies of Narendra Modi’s government. His platforming at prominent cultural institutions in other countries is particularly painful and dangerous given that houses of minorities and activists are being bulldozed, broadcast live and celebrated publicly in the latest escalation of state violence in India.
Agnihotri is now in Europe, on a leg of his tour cynically named “Humanity Tour”, where he is showing his latest film “The Kashmir Files”. This tour appears to be carried out in an intransparent, manipulative way as Agnihotri lists various allegedly official stops such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin where it has been confirmed that no such event or official visit is known of or agreed on. Previously on similar occasions, Oxford Union and Cambridge College have distanced themselves from such an event. As many scholars, filmmakers, activists and democratic voices from various sections of Indian society have stated strongly, his recent film fabricates a history and narrates a story with an active aim to further demonise Muslims in Kashmir and help in their ongoing persecution. Meanwhile, spokespeople of the Kashmiri Pandit community themselves have criticised BJP politics for aggravating the situation in Kashmir. The film’s main focus is to justify the blatant authoritarian suppression of the Kashmiri people and their voice, alongside a complete denial of their democratic and human rights which have been well documented and recognised internationally. The film’s effect and therefore real intentions become very apparent when calls for Muslim genocide are raised and repeatedly supported during and after film screenings in India. Fascist elements have been mobilised to attack Muslims and their properties all over India today. This is widely documented and can be found by a simple online search. Therefore we expect social institutions like Babylon Berlin to attend to critical voices regarding the real implications and political intentions behind the events they participate in and hold responsibility for. As the situation in India has clearly become so dangerous for the minorities, that becoming an active party to such events here might amount to facilitate fascist propaganda and a willing cooperation with such malicious elements.
We would like to point out that we are sadly repeatedly witnessing the inability and unwillingness of cultural institutions in Berlin to dissociate themselves from such events of soft-power bilateralism which are constantly used to culture-wash the ongoing human rights violations in the subcontinent under the Modi regime (organising events with enablers of genocide such as Agnihotri, or failing to respond to the criticisms of Indo-German Film Week are just few examples). Currently, the Indian government and its state machinery have come out blatantly and clearly against Muslim minorities and are attacking and destroying their lives and property by all means. In this, the state and its allies are acting as unapologetic fascists with complete impunity. At such a moment, organising any event uncritically in the name of bilateral cultural or political relations amounts to siding with the official Indian narrative which is now rooted in a genocidal agenda. Therefore we hold, and continue holding, such institutions accountable for so clearly relinquishing the historical lessions drawn from the resistance against National Socialism in the past, and willingly becoming party to a deeply oppressive, genocidal state.
We demand that Agnihotri be de-platformed and suggest that a fair public debate is held, keeping in mind the safety of dissident voices, to ensure a level of transparency regarding the so-called “historical” contents of the film in question and Agnihotri’s own deeply problematic role in the current political state of affairs in India. It is impossible to keep quiet in the face of such rampant historical revisionism, and by abetting this institutions in Germany are choosing the side of the oppressors.
References and further information
India Justice Project has already criticised the screening of “The Kashmir Files” in Germany in an open letter in April: https://www.indiajusticeproject.de/en/2022/04/13/open-letter-the-film-the-kashmir-files-incites-violence-against-muslims/