December 2017 News

After Saudi, Now Kashmir Wants Cinema Halls Reopened

13 December 2017
DNA


Srinagar: Clamour is growing for the reopening of cinema halls in the strife-torn Kashmir valley. This follows the decision of Saudi Arabia to open movie theatres in the Islamic kingdom from next year. 'Time to reopen cinemas in Kashmir too. It's an apolitical issue and shouldn't be delayed anymore. Have to give our people the semblance of a normal, social life along with peace and stability. Reopening cinemas doesn't negate the conflict or the need to resolve it,' tweeted Junaid Azim Mattu, state spokesman of Opposition National Conference. Mattu's remarks came in response to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's tweet hailing Saudi Arabia's decision to lift the ban on cinema halls. 'I welcome the decision by Saudi Arabia to lift a decade-long ban on cinemas as part of a series of social reforms by the crown prince. Introspection and self reform are marks of a progressive society,' the CM tweeted. 'I am strongly in favour of reopening of cinema halls in Kashmir. However, there is a rider. We need to have the censor board sort of thing so that there is check on the films to be shown in Kashmir. Whatever is shown in other parts of the country cannot be shown in Kashmir. We have to take our socio-political and socio-cultural moorings into consideration,' said Mushtaaque Ali Ahmad Khan, noted filmmaker and director of recently held Kashmir World Film Festival. The state doesn't have any movie halls at present. Allah Tigers, now a defunct terror outfit, had banned cinema halls as well as sale and consumption of liquor in 1989. Led by self styled 'Air Marshal' Noor Khan, the outfit had ransacked and looted liquor shops and threatened to set ablaze cinema halls prompting them to shut down. There were eight single screen theatres in capital city of Srinagar. Of the eight, four were in old city which had become the citadel of separatist movement during early nineties. In 1999, Farooq Abdullah-led government tried to reopen Regal cinema in Srinagar, but on the inaugural show, terrorists attacked the cinema with grenades killing one person and injuring 12 others. Later two theatres - Neelam and Broadway - tried to reopen amid tight security, but were unable to attract cine-goers owing to security reasons. With the result Broadway closed some months later. Neelam Cinema crutched along but finally closed down in 2010. Cine goers had a narrow escape when militants attacked Neelam on September 7, 2005. Two militants and a policeman were killed in the attack.

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