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Kota Admin U-Turn: Sec 144 Doesn't Apply to the Screening of 'The Kashmir Files'

"There will be no ban on the peaceful conduct of religious festivals," the revised order further said.

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A day after Kota district administration issued an order imposing Section 144 in the area for one month to "maintain law and order with the screening of the movie The Kashmir Files", the administration issued a revised order on Tuesday evening, 22 March, stating that Section 144 would not apply to the screening of The Kashmir Files film or any other film.

"The order shall not apply to the screening of The Kashmir Files film or any other film. There will be no ban on the peaceful conduct of religious festivals," the revised order read.

Section 144 bans the assembly of four or more people in public places.

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Dispute Arose After Original Order

A dispute arose after the acting collector of Kota district, Rajkumar Singh, issued the original order on Monday, 21 March, which said that Section 144 would remain in force in the district from 6 am on 22 March to 12 pm on 21 April.

The order had said that "in the coming days, it is necessary to impose Section 144 in terms of security regarding festivals and the film The Kashmir Files currently running in cinemas."

The order further said that to maintain law and order in the district, there is a need to ban processions and gatherings in time.

Director Vivek Agnihotri Reacts

Reacting to the above order, the film's director Vivek Agnihotri tweeted to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, saying it was time for justice.

"Dear Anurag Thakur ji, if the film on #RightToJustice is sabotaged by state in a democracy, what should we think of justice? Dear Ashok Gehlot ji, only strength of terrorists is that they create fear and we get afraid. Dear #TheKashmirFiles viewers, it's your time for justice," he tweeted.
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BJP Objects

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also raised objections to the order.

Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathod said that the film is being praised in every nook and corner of the country, and the enthusiasm of the people to watch the film in the cinema hall can be clearly seen.

"The decision of the administration to impose Section 144 is unfortunate and has been taken so that the citizens of Kota could not see it. What is the government afraid of?"

BJP MP and National President of BJP Yuva Morcha (BJYM) Tejaswi Surya took to Twitter to criticise the move.

"Fascist Rajasthan Congress Government has imposed Sec 144 in Kota to prevent people from watching #TheKashmirFiles. Not letting the truth be told is not only injustice to victims but also amounts to siding with terrorists. BJYM will protest this, will violate unjust order & court arrest," he tweeted.

Tejaswi said that the BJYM Kota District delegation will demand revocation of the order on Tuesday. He further informed that he, along with BJYM state president Himanshu Sharma, would lead a protest to the Kota DC office.

"BJYM will protest against this illegal and draconian imposition of Sec 144 in Rajasthan by Sri Ashok Gehlot's Congress government. Today, the BJYM Kota District delegation will demand revocation. Tomorrow, I will, along with State President (BJYM) Himanshu Sharma, lead a protest march to the Kota DC office," he added.
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Kota District Administration Issues Clarification

Facing mounting pressure, the Kota administration tweeted a clarification on Tuesday morning, stating:

"In Section 144 issued by #Kota District Collector on 21 March, there is no prohibition of any kind on display/operation or viewing of the movie The Kashmir Files in the cinema halls of Kota district."

About the Movie

The Kashmir Files, which was released in the theatres on 11 March stars Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, and Darshan Kumar in the lead roles. The controversial Bollywood movie is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus in the 1990.

The movie that is currently doing well at the box office has also triggered anti-Muslim hate speech and violent sloganeering at several theatres.

Meanwhile, the Centre had on Friday, 18 March, announced that it will provide 'Y' category security cover to the movie's director Vivek Agnihotri all over India.

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