How We Celebrate Freedom

The Hindu reports that a university in Pune has cancelled a planned screening of Sanjay Kak’s 2007 documentary film, Jashn-e-Azadi: How We Celebrate Freedom.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce principal Hrishikesh Soman stated that the ABVP had approached him on Friday, and that the college agreed to cancel the film screening “considering their [ABVP’s] emotions and feelings.” “I told them that the seminar is entirely academic, apolitical and non-religious. But the film has met with criticism from all corners. So we have decided to avoid unnecessary controversies and cancel the screening,” Mr. Soman said. “If people have a very strong reason to protest the film, then we should be tolerant enough,” he stated. [Link]

Shameful as this censorship is, it is a compliment to Sanjay Kak’s fabulous documentary film that the goons of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad don’t want people in Pune to see it. The truth about Kashmir must not be told. This is also an example of why the BJP props up its ‘minority morcha’ to oppose Salman Rushdie visiting Jaipur: they want the Congress and the ‘secularists’ and the Muslims to be seen as censor-happy so that they can get away with their own censorship.

Freedom of speech and expression in India, RIP.

Or, not.

Just as Satanic Verses freely circulates on the internet, you can also watch Jashn-e-Azadi online, for free.

Film synopsis:

It’s 15th August, India’s Independence day, and the Indian flag ritually goes up at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir. The normally bustling square is eerily empty– a handful of soldiers on parade, some more guarding them, and except for the attendant media crews, no Kashmiris.

For more than a decade, such sullen acts of protest have marked 15th August in Kashmir, and this is the point from where Jashn-e-Azadi begins to explore the many meanings of Freedom–of Azadi–in Kashmir.

In India, the real contours of the conflict in Kashmir are invariably buried under the facile depiction of an innocent population, trapped between the Terrorist’s Gun and the Army’s Boot. But after 18 years of a bloody armed struggle, after 60,000 civilians dead (and almost 7,000 enforced disappearances), what really is contained in the sentiment for Azadi–for freedom?

Amidst the everyday violence and ever-present fear in Kashmir, there are no easy answers to such questions. Where truth has been an early victim, all language–speech, poetry, even cinema–becomes inadequate to describe what we know and feel here. So we reshape our curiousity, and point ourselves at what we can see, what we are allowed to see. The film then combines several forms and modes of expression to evoke the past as well as unravel the present:

We are witness to an ageing father in the Martyr’s Graveyard; we are with a group of men as they survey the dead in the mountain villages of Bandipora; we sit quietly in the Out Patients Ward of the Govt Psychiatric Hospital in Srinagar.
But we look elsewhere too, in the satirical farce of Bhand folk performers as they play in a village square; in the tense undercurrents of an Army Sadhbhavna (Goodwill) camp in north Kashmir; and in the images conjured up by the work of contemporary Kashmiri poets.

Shot and edited between August 2004-2006 Jashn-e-Azadi engages us with the idea of Azadi in Kashmir.

In 2007, as India celebrates it’s 60th anniversary of Independence, this is also a conversation about Freedom in India.

138 mins / Digital Video
Kashmiri/Urdu/English (English subtitles)
2007 (under production)

[via Jashn-e-Azadi blog]

See also:

23 thoughts on “How We Celebrate Freedom”

  1. I would like you(Shivam Vij) to talk about blockage of Kashmiri Resistance Facebook pages. Every week URL’s of Facebook pages are blocked. A page has been blocked 16 times.


    1. Do you think Mr. Shivam Vij or anyone can advocate Aalaw’s hate speech. If Aalaaw continues it’s hate speech, it will be reported.
      Tell them if they want to run a resistance movement in facebook restrict their offensive and foul language.


  2. The link, “freely circulates on the internet” is misleading. It does not take reader to a copy of Satanic verses as implied!


    1. Even Freedom of Speech can be a misleading term, as we decide who is entiled to have that freedom and who is not. While Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses must not be censored, the protest against it should also be allowed. The State should not interfere unless the laws are violated. But that is an ideal situation. An institution which does not have the power of State should take an appropriate decision, without violating the laws. In practice we take sides, and use even profanity for the side we oppose. That is what we mean when we talk of Freedom of Speech. Why not Mr Kak’s documentary is screened at other educational insititutions or sites, such as JNU, Chennai or Kolkata, where ABVB is not very effective? The denial of its screening at Pune University is far from censorship.


  3. We had screened this documentary two years back at the University of Hyderabad. Though we were a bit worried about the response of the audience no unpleasant incidents happened


  4. Half truths about Kashmir and that too without censor certificate is any way illegal.

    When confronted by us last year at Stanford University , mr Kak regretter that this was a sponsored story of one side as such its validity is questionable. On technical grounds this isnt a movie but propagada tool of extremist Hurriyat ideologues who were responsible for genocide and ethnic cleansing of Minorities in kashmir.

    People like Yasin Malik have been showcased as Gandhian Heroes while as fact remains they have admitted to the killings of minority folks even on BBC and fact that he still has 34 FIRs of rape , murder and other criminal activities against him.

    So Mr Moderator , please wake up before you make this False cry that something is wrong if we stop its screening in an educational institute meant for civilized world.


    1. Mr. Wagoo

      i guess from your name that you maybe a kashmiri pandit. i would like to point out to you that the director of this film, Sanjay Kak is a kashmiri pandit. maybe you should be interested to find out what he has to say – assuming you have not seen the documentary.

      If you have seen it and have decided that it is half-truth then surely others who see it could also reach the same opinion.


  5. Let’s also reflect on the fact that we’re reading this article on January 30 (Thees Janvari): 64 years after, Godse’s followers are winning. In recent days, they won in Delhi Univ, they won in Pune, And John Dayal has just pointed out an attack on a Jesuit college in Anekal, Karnataka.
    How many more battles? And what of the war?


    1. You forgot to mention the imprisonment of Rev. Kanna in Kashmir. I am not sure Mr. Omar Abdullah, the CM, is a Godse follower, but I should leave that for you to decide. Sometimes even the laws of the land also win. So why not give the judiciary a chance to look into the matter? Do you think the central government, including Sonia and Manmohan Singh, also follow Godse? If not, then why not take your grievances to them? Do you really think anti-India propaganda is opposed only by the followers of Godse who, I am not sure, are? Is it not enough that you can speak against India? I think there are Indians who hate Godse, but will defend India against an attack of any kind, including comments in this forum.


  6. Shivam,

    Thank you so much for sharing the link. I apologize in advance if this inspires the cops to give you a call, or pay you a visit in advance. I am a bit far from their reach so I should be okay downloading and reading this stuff.



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