Three soldiers of the special forces of Army were injured in an ongoing encounter with Pakistani terrorists that broke out last night in the forest area of Kalakote in the Rajouri district of Jammu.
The wait for the revival of cinema in Kashmir is stretching longer as the cinema hall that was expected to come up in the cantonment area of Srinagar has failed to take shape.
Cinema halls in the Kashmir valley were burnt or ordered to be shut down by terrorists 31 years ago in 1989 when militancy came to Jammu and Kashmir. The new generation in Kashmir has been denied the opportunity to see movies in cinema halls because most of these were either burnt or forcibly shut by terrorists and Islamic radicals.
The previous governor Satya Pal Malik had rekindled the hope of the revival of cinema among the people when he last year announced that a cinema hall would soon come up in the cantonment area of Srinagar. However, the cinema hall has failed to take shape and instead a shopping mall has come up there.
Earlier, efforts of successive governments to revive cinema halls had also failed as terrorists resisted the move by tossing grenades during film shows.
Cinema halls were in 1989 the first targets of terrorists and radical elements who claimed that such type of entertainment was un-Islamic. They had also got the liquor shops shut in the valley.
The valley had 19 cinema halls in Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Sopore, Handwara, and Kupwara but now these have turned into ruins or are being utilized for other commercial activity.
The Palladium Cinema, in the heart of Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, was burnt by terrorists and now the CRPF has set up its command post in its ruins.
Those who could afford to travel 300 km to Jammu were taking the opportunity to watch movies on the broad screen in the multiplexes there.
Successive governments have made futile attempts to reopen the cinema halls. The latest one was made when the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was running the government with the support of BJP, quoting crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s decision to reopen movie theatres in the Islamic Republic of Saudi Arabia tweeted; “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.” Mehbooba’s tweet was supported by various political parties, including certain leaders of National Conference.
However, top separatist Syed Alishah Geelani did not relish the idea of reopening the cinema halls and issued a strong-worded statement against the decision of Saudi Arabia.
During his tenure as Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah reopened three cinema halls in Srinagar in 1999 but terrorists exploded grenades and one person was killed and several people watching movies were injured as a result of which these were again shut down.
Haseeb Drabu, who was sacked by Mehbooba from her ministry, had in a tweet said; “And look what has happened to the 7 movie theatres in Srinagar: Palladium is in ruins, Naaz is crumbling, Shiraz is a security bunker, so is Firdous, Regal is becoming a mall, Broadway is an office complex & Khayam is a hospital. Wonder how many youngsters know where these were!”
The government has been asking film producers to return to Kashmir that was in the pre-terrorism era one of the favourite destinations for shooting movies.