The right wing forces in Tamil Nadu, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have allegedly launched an attack on the right to opinion of individuals. The latest targets are the cine artists who raised their concerns against the proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act that have reportedly not gone well with the sangh parivar activists.
Following this, the alleged cyber right wing activists have unleashed online abuses, threats of legal actions, and personal attacks against those who have ensured that their voices are heard.
The state unit of the BJP youth wing even passed a resolution against actor Suriya for his position on the proposed amendments and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). Several other film personalities, including actors and directors are also facing personal attacks by alleged sangh parivar supporters in social media platforms.
The film fraternity met with Chief Minister M K Stalin to appraise their concerns on the amendments and sought the intervention of the state government. The CM has in turn written to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting seeking the withdrawal of the proposed amendments.
FILM FRATERNITY OPPOSE AMENDMENTS
The proposed Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, as expected, has drawn huge flak from across the film fraternity in Tamil Nadu. Actors Kamal Haasan, Suriya and Siddharth, directors Raju Murugan, Karthik Subburaj and several others spoke against the notification of the bill.
“Please act, voice your concern for freedom and liberty,” tweeted Kamal Haasan. Actor Suriya called for people to record their objections to the proposed amendments, while stating that, “the law is to protect freedom of expression, not to strangle (the freedom)”.
A detailed online petition was circulated by the members of the film fraternity, with their specific suggestions to each of the proposed amendments. reasoning in support of the suggestions given.
RIGHT WING ABUSE DISSENTERS
In response, cyber activists of allegedly several right wing forces, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, jumped in to support the proposed amendments and the actions of the Union government. The posts and tweets of the artists were soon filled with abusive comments, ‘anti-nationals’ being the common term used.
The youth wing of the BJP went a step ahead and passed a resolution condemning actor Suriya in a meeting held in Chennai. The organisation also threatened legal action if he continued to “spread misinformation about NEET and the Cinematograph Bill”.
The Yuva Morcha accused the actor of wilfully opposing the policies implemented by the BJP-led Union government.
The state president of BJP’s art and culture wing shared a morphed newscard which claimed that actor Suriya has threatened to leave the film industry if the amendments are not withdrawn.
“You will start a political party after quitting the film industry,” Gayathri Raghuram, an actor and a member of BJP, wrote while sharing the edited newscard. She has neither deleted the tweet nor expressed any regret over sharing fake news so far.
The BJP state leadership has further challenged the actor for an open debate on the issue.
Actor Suriya, who manages a trust for educating students in government schools from socially and economically backward sections, has taken a consistent stand against NEET. The actor invited criticism from the BJP and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam when he opposed the draft NEP in 2019.
On June 19, the actor requested people to send their opinion to the Justice A K Rajan committee, constituted by the state government to study the implications of NEET. He termed the conduct of common exam for a diverse cultured country like India as a ‘social injustice’.
The reactions of the BJP and other right wing fringe groups like the Indu Makkal Katchi came in response to the actor’s reaction.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] has condemned the threat of the BJP Yuva Morcha aimed at silencing the artist. “The right wing activists are attacking the individuals who voice their opinions against regressive policies. The Union BJP government is unleashing several repressive laws to silence criticism, but the dissenters are being threatened by the party activists. This is highly condemnable,” CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan said in a statement.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Suriya and his wife Jyothika, who is also an actor, have faced right wing attacks earlier as well. Jyothika in 2020, had raised concerns over the condition of government hospitals and insisted on the need to maintain them properly.
While speaking at an award function, she said, “People are donating a lot of money to temples, painting it and maintaining it. Please put the same amount into buildings, schools, hospitals. It's very important. I feel very bad. I didn't go to the temple after seeing the hospital. I think hospitals are as important, schools are as important, so let's donate to them also,"
The right wing had attacked the family, questioning them if they could dare to speak against other religions. A 2017 video of Suriya praying in a mosque had re-emerged with the claim of the embracing Islam.
Also read: ‘Evidence’ against Surendra Gadling Planted on His Computer Since 2016, Says Arsenal Report