Revoke the ban on Final Solution

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    Government of India
We, the undersigned, express our deep concern about the recent ban on Rakesh Sharmas internationally acclaimed documentary “Final Solution”. We urge the Government of India to immediately revoke the ban imposed by the Censor Board. We hope measures will be undertaken to facilitate the immediate release of the film to the general public.Final Solution is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during the period Feb/March 2002 – July 2003, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of genocidal violence against Moslems in Gujarat. The film documents the Assembly elections held in Gujarat in late 2002 and records in detail the exploitation of the Godhra incident (in which 58 Hindus were burnt alive) by the right-wing propaganda machinery for electoral gains. It studies the situation after the storm and its impact on Hindus and Moslems ghettoisation in cities and villages, segregation in schools, the call for economic boycott of Moslems and continuing acts of violence more than a year after the carnage. Final Solution is anti-hate/ violence as those who forget history are condemned to relive it.

“Final Solution ” is a feature-length documentary that has won several awards, including the Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Documentary at the HongKong International film festival and the Silver Dhow at the Zanzibar International film festival as well as two major awards at the Berlin International film festival (2004). The Wolgang Staudte Award Jury headed by the noted French director Catherine Breillat noted in its citation: “An epic documentary focussing on a culture of hatred and indifference. The directness, clarity and accuracy of the film enables the viewer to both reflect on the universality of the subject matter and relate this to his or her own human attitudes. The film-maker has chosen a documentary form that completely shuns the use of melodramatic effects…”
The Netpac Jury at the Berlinale said: the award goes to Final Solution “for its clarification of issues that spawned hate and violence between Hindus and Moslems in Gujarat, its analysis of propoganda mechanisms for political purposes, and its measured voice to seek a final solution to the conflict.”

We are shocked to note that the Indian Censors have offered the following reasons for the ban: The film promotes communal disharmony among Hindu and Muslim groups and presents the picture of Gujarat riots in a way that it may arouse the communal feelings and clashes among Hindu Muslim groups. It attacks on the basic concept of our Republic i.e. National Integrity and Unity. Certain dialogues involve defamation of individuals or body of individuals. Entire picturisation is highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence. State security is jeopardized and public order is endangered if this film is shown. It violates guidelines 2(xiii), 2(xiv), 2(xvii) and 3(i). When it is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact, it is not advisable to be exhibited. Hence refused under Section 5(b) 1 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

[Section 5B(1): A film shall not be certified for public exhibition if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of [the sovereignty and integrity of India] the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence. 2 (xiii) -Visible words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti national attitudes. 2(xiv)-The sovereignty and integrity of India is called in question. 2(xvii) -Public order is endangered].

We find the observations made by the Indian Censor Board to be deeply disturbing. We are appalled to note that the Censor Board preview panel has several members affiliated with the right-wing political party who do not hesitate to use their official position to suppress any film critical of their politics. We would like to express our protest against the ban on Final Solution as well as the attempts to harass the film-maker through show-cause notices querying the participation of his film in international film festivals and demanding explanations about customs duties etc, matters clearly outside the Censor Boards jurisdiction. We are gravely concerned about the strong-arm tactics being used by right-wing cadres to thwart public screenings of the film even in film festivals like Films for Freedom at Bangalore on July 29, 2004.

The right to freedom of expression and the right to information are central to any healthy and vibrant democracy. We urge you to take immediate steps to arrange for the speedy release of Final Solution without cuts. Final Solution is itself a strong plea against the politics of intolerance and hate and we are perturbed to find it become a victim of political intolerance.