Hardliner Sikh groups and filmmakers continue to incite radicals in Punjab and abroad. While some filmmakers have been opening the 30-year-old wounds by making films that glorify the former Khalistan militants, some Sikh groups continue to radicalise the younger generation by pushing the demand for a separate homeland (Khalistan).
The latest celluloid controversy was kicked off by the makers of The Mastermind Jinda Sukha slated for September 11 release. The Censor Board which had cleared the film on July 24 suddenly banned the film, as it glorifies and portrays two Khalistan Commando Force terrorists Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, who killed general Arun Vaidya on August 10, 1986.
General Vaidya had led Operation Blue Star to flush out militants from Golden Temple complex. Jinda was also involved in a bank robbery of more than Rs 57 million. Besides General Vaidya, Sukha was also involved in two other high-profile killings ie Arjan Dass and Lalit Maken.
Interestingly, these filmmakers and the radicals do not consider these Khalistan terrorists as "killers". They are honoured and respected as martyrs, and they say they fought for the community which was in "danger".
The films produced in recent years justify the killings of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, general Vaidya and former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh as they were responsible for Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh riots.
Glorification of Khalistan terrorists is not a new thing in Punjabi films. More than six films have portrayed the Indian government, police and Army in poor light. Gaddar (2015) was based on the life of Ajit Singh Sandhu who was SSP, Tarn Taran and allegedly indulged in killing of innocent people under the garb of controlling terrorism.
Quom De Heere (2014) was based on life of Satwant Singh, Beant Singh and Kehar Singh who assassinated former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
This film was also banned by the Censor Board as it also portrayed three terrorists as heroes. The Blood Street (2014) was based on the anti-Sikh riots. The Censor Board had refused to clear the film terming the content violent and controversial.
Sadda Haq (2013) was also banned in Punjab as it supported the Khalistan movement. The ban was however lifted by the Supreme Court later.
It seems the Punjabi filmmakers are only keen to produce films on controversial topics. Sources said these films not only get funding from the radical Sikh organisations but are also a major source of earning as they magnetise a number of viewers abroad.
The funding of these films is also on the radar of Indian enforcement agencies.
As usual, the ban on The Mastermind Jinda Sukha has left filmmakers and radical Sikh groups fuming. The director of the film, Sukhjinder Singh Jinda termed the Censor Board's decision as anti-Punjabi film industry. He also said the decision will not hinder with his passion for film making.
"We will challenge the ban in the court as it is arbitrary and illegal. How can you block the film after you clear it? We will sue the Censor Board for damages," Sukhjinder Singh Jinda said.
The film actors and hard-line Sikh leaders, think films produced on the insurgency days are full of history and "educate" the new generation.
"Films like The Mastermind Jinda Sukha do not glorify terrorism. They want to throttle the voice of Sikh community which has suffered a lot during the last 30 years," Simranjit Singh Mann said.