SAHMAT Press Statement condemning  Mob Censorship in Gujarat on 26th May 2006

The shocking incident of the “ unofficial” ban on the film Fanaa in the state of Gujarat, should make all the citizens of the country stand up in alarm. Gujarat now has the distinction of allowing a small group of people with  political affiliations and a clear agenda of communal hate politics to deprive the entire population of their state access to culture. This recent incident follows the attack on and subsequent closure of the Garden Art Museum in Surat in 2004, the  burning of the Husain Doshi Gufa in Ahmedabad and the "ban" on Husain's film "Gaj Gamini" - all through   violence or threats of violence The protestations of the State Government that none of these have official sanction or are official positions of the BJP carry

no weight. The groups involved in all these actions are all affiliated to the ruling party in the state. It is the duty of the Government to protect the rights of artists and film makers to show their work to the public, and for the public to decide on the merits of the work. None of the work in question has been censored or banned by any State authority.Gujarat has a rich tradition of cultural pluralism and we have no doubt whatsoever that audiences there have a sophisticated critical outlook. We appeal to the people of Gujarat to stand against the censorship of culture by a motivated handful through violence. They should not let their state become unique in the Indian Union by allowing "unofficial'" and increasingly widespread culture policing.