Film on women joining IS banned in West Bengal

The West Bengal government on Monday banned a film critic accused of stoking community hate and propaganda against Muslims, but strongly defended by the ruling right-wing coalition.

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The film, The Kerala Story, claims that 32,000 Hindu and Christian women in the mixed state of Kerala were converted to Islam and that certain were recruited by the militant group Islamic State (IS).

Critics have called the film to spread lies aimed at fomenting community polarization and agitation. But the film was endorsed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and taken over by Hindu extremists who say his representation is accurate. West Bengal, whose population is larger than Germany, banned the movie on Monday, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose party opposes Modi, describing it as a “distorted story”.

“It is to prevent any incidents of hatred and violence, and to maintain peace in the state,” she told journalists in Kolkata.The film’s trailer initially stated that thousands of women had fled their homes “to be buried in the deserts”.

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But as the controversy arose, it was edited to say that it was a story about three women of Kerala. But the closing credits still say that it is “dedicated to the thousands of girls in Kerala and Mangalore who did not return home after their conversions”.

Anurag Thakur, Minister of Information of India, said that the film displayed “the reality of the Islamic State” and that by banning it, West Bengal has indeed been side with terror outfits which “attract women with love”.

“Everyone needs to see this movie to understand the agenda of these terrorist groups that operate globally, but do their recruiting in certain regions of India,” Thakur told broadcaster India Today. Indian authorities have never been concerned that thousands of their citizens have joined IS, a prospect that would alert counterterrorism experts.

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