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Images: Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, both members of India's elite security force trained and sworn to protect the country's Constitution.


Has Anything Changed in India?
Film on Indira’s Execution by India’s Elite Security Force Barred From Indian Theatres





EDITOR‘S NOTE:  The original article contains serious errors and half-truths, and is therefore published here with corrections.


New Delhi, India

An Indian government body has blocked the release of a film dramatizing the 1984 execution of Indira Gandhi for her crimes in ordering the invasion of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

And simultaneously, the CEO of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, Rakesh Kumar, was arrested in connection with allegations that he has been demanding and accepting bribes to approve this and other films.

The release of the film, Kaum de Heere -- "Heroes of The Nation" -- had been scheduled for release Friday, August 22, 2014, on the grounds that it could incite religious tensions.

Critics said the Punjabi-language film depicted Indira Gandhi’s executioners in factual details which contradict the official, Indian government story. Indira Gandhi was gunned down by two of her own elite bodyguard who had been trained and sworn to protect the Indian Constitution.

The reason behind the extraordinary action of the members of India's top security force was to have her answer for her crimes around the invasion and descration of the Golden Temple, and the fact that she had put herself beyond the reach of the law.  

Her death was followed by a well-orchestrated and pre-planned pogrom throughout India in which thousands of innocent Sikh men, women and children were massacred.

The Central Board of Film Certification, whose approval is required before any film can be shown in Indian theaters, had originally cleared “Kaum De Heere” for release but reversed its decision on Thursday, August 21, 2014. That reversal came after India's Home Ministry interfered in the process and called the film “highly objectionable.”

“The problem lies in the fact that it eulogizes things it shouldn’t,” Leela Samson, chairwoman of the Central Board of Film Certification, said of the film on Friday. “Like taking the law into your own hands.”

She added that the film “puts a community or religious group above the interests of the nation.”

State leaders of two major Indian parties, the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party -- both of which were complicit in the horrendous crimes of 1984 -- had demanded that the film be banned.

Indira Gandhi was executed by members of India’s elite security force on October 31, 1984, more than four months after she sent the Indian Army to invade and desecrate the Golden Temple complex in the Punjabi city of Amritsar, which at that point also had, along with several thousand pilgrims on a high holiday, a number of resistance fighters.

Thousands died in the assault, which turned the shrine complex into a “killing ground” by the Indian troops.

One of the bodyguards who shot Indira Gandhi was killed by the police, inexplicably some time after he had been taken prisoner. The second was hanged in 1989, along with a former clerk, also Sikh -- like his two compatriots -- who was convicted of conspiring in the execution. There was no public trial, which was rushed through without any public or media scrutiny.

Ms. Samson said a depiction of the hanging was one of the film’s objectionable scenes, calling it “not at all in good taste.”

Pardeep Bansal, one of the producers of “Kaum de Heere,” told the Press Trust of India that the film had been maligned, in many cases by people who had not seen it. “It is a completely balanced film wherein no religion or sect has been belittled,” Mr. Bansal said. “Some people are unnecessarily trying to create a controversy without watching the movie.”

The film’s title, which means “Heroes of The Nation,” was itself taken by critics as controversial, seen as referring to the executioners.

The board originally approved the film’s release in May after several screenings, and after requested cuts were made, Ms. Samson said. She said that the reversal of the decision was made at the Home Ministry’s request. She said the filmmakers had the right to appeal the decision.

The film’s writer and director, Ravinder Ravi, said that he would make a decision about an appeal after consulting with his legal team.

Earlier this week, the chief executive of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, Rakesh Kumar, was arrested in connection with allegations that he had accepted bribes to approve this film.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which arrested Mr. Kumar, demanded that all films approved under his tenure be reviewed. Mr. Kumar told questioners that he took a bribe of 100,000 rupees, about $1,655, from the makers of “Kaum de Heere” to approve their film, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Ravi denied paying a bribe to Mr. Kumar to clear the film.

Ms. Samson said that she had no prior knowledge about any bribe case involving Mr. Kumar.

[Courtesy: The New York Times. Edited for]
August 23, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Neeraj Bhushan (Jaipur, Rajasthan, India), August 23, 2014, 7:29 AM.

More than three-quarters of all films made and shown in India glorify breaking the law and depict the law-breakers as heroes. But the body-guards who executed -- and here I agree, the correct term is indeed "execution" -- the prime law-breaker in the country were real patriots and heroes, not criminals. Theirs was the ultimate sacrifice to uphold the law.

2: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 23, 2014, 5:03 PM.

In India if Sikhs produce movies relating to 1984 or the militancy period, the Hindus always make the argument that it will heighten "communal" tensions. If Hindus produce movies where Sikhs are shown as nothing more than country yokels, the butt of jokes or if the Sikh religion is presented as being a part of Hinduism, there is no fear for communal tensions. But I suppose they are correct, are they not? When you make Hindus in India upset it leads to rioting, rape and pillaging, thus there is a real concern for "communal" tensions. Such a fear does not exist if you make a small, wealthy, civilized community such as the Sikhs upset. In fact, events relating to the screening of this film in Punjab have exactly played out to this tune. The RSS has threatened to protest at movie theaters if the film is given approval to play in Punjab. The RSS! Can you believe it? It looks as if Punjabi Hindus have found some courage, it only took them a thousand years and their targets are consistently Sikh assets in Punjab. I guarantee if they make a movie about the life of Indira Gandhi they would not hesitate to present the brave young men which brought justice to the Sikh community as nothing more than religious fanatics, anti-nationals or individuals hell bent on breaking the supposed bonhomie between Sikhs and Hindus. There sure as heck would not be any fear that the censor board would prevent the screening of such a movie. In Hindustan there is one law for the Hindus and one law for the rest of the population.

3: Kaala Singh (Punjab), August 23, 2014, 11:16 PM.

India will ban anything that tells the story of the other side. All the while, India has been demonizing Sikhs in the Indian media and around the world. Even a large majority of Indians are not aware of the reality of 1984 and believe the government propaganda. Now that the Sikhs have started telling the reality of 1984 via books, movies and other media, the architects of 1984 feel very uncomfortable as it hurts their carefully crafted image of a "secular democarcy" which acts in a moral way while the reality is very different. With their expensive media campaigns in foreign countries they want to be seen in the club of responsible countries where human rights and the rule of law are respected but movies like these put them in the category of countries like Rwanda. Now, who would want to see countries like Rwanda in international bodies like the UN security council?

4: Devinder Pal Singh (Delhi, India), August 24, 2014, 3:08 AM.

The state always exercises might to hide its own heneous crimes. From ages the king was always glorified by the paid historian, a fact which was candidly stated by the poet Ghalib. This has been witnessed by all as school texts are being re-written today in India by the Government glorifying falsehood. The truth cannot be turned over, today those that called Indira Gandhi their mother openly speak about her deceit and devilry. Its a pity that the paid servant will never be able to side with the truth. This country will always be able to find some excuse to withhold the truth and will not hesitate to malign whosoever it needs to lie about. While India has in its emblem cited 'Satyamev Jayate' (Long Live Truth), it promotes the opposite. Its internal stand does not allow it to voice common sense on the world fora. We Sikhs cannot forget the treachery that unfolded against us by the united combine of Congress and BJP. It would have been really good if Prakash Singh Badal had not diplomatically distanced himself from the film, but instead should have given a firm stand towards its screening. The worst fact is that the Punjab Youth Congress sides with its parent body having fully witnessed the pogrom in Punjab and elsewhere in the country. The privileged among us advocate forgetting the past and go all out to declare that they have been members of the Congress and will remain so and get upset if a truth-sayer rises among them. This film though banned in India must be screened in the international fora so that the world can see the truth and also be aware of the falsehood that the ruling power preaches and spreads against the Sikh minority.

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Film on Indira’s Execution by India’s Elite Security Force Barred From Indian Theatres"

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