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Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai: Bringing the aftermath to the forefront

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By Atul Mishra

Not many films can boast of as many cancelled or stalled screenings as Nakul Singh Sawhney’s Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai. The film even faced challenges from ‘offended’ groups in one of the most open minded places in the national capital i.e. Delhi University.  

NewsGram recently went to a screening of the film and got to know what people thought about it.

Among others, Sandhya Nambiar, the organizer of this screening, felt that the movie was more about asking pertinent questions for the times, than giving answers.”

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When Muzaffarnagar riots happened in August-September 2013, there were mixed claims and reactions by everybody. From media to political groups, no one was sure which community instigated the riots. Like any other riot, Muzzafarnagar soon became a classic example of instigation rather than a spark that started off and spread like fire. 

After an year since the tragic incident, Nakul Singh Sawhney made Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai, a documentary film set in the aftermath of the riots.

Are the riots to be viewed in a Hindu-Muslim binary? Were the innocent people of Muzaffarnagar mere pawns in a larger game? Muzaffarnagar and Shamli have not given in yet. Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai asks these questions and is a liberating experience, in the sense that it says there is no giving up. The documentary brings to light how the game of politics was initiated to benefit the ulterior agenda of BJP.

The testimonies of the Jat, Muslim and Dalit residents of the districts during the interviews (which were taken and have been incorporated in the film) prove that the Bharatiya Janata Party appears to have engineered the situation to win the general election of 2014 and elevate Narendra Modi to the nation’s prime ministership. And it succeeded all too magnificently.

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Antra Vijay, a JNU student said, “My focus was more on the psychological individualities. For example, as you progress through the movie, all the people who are being interviewed, how they identify themselves. Initially it was just names, then their religion and then class and then even the divisions within religion. Their identity therefore undergoes a transformation even within the frame of time in the movie itself.”

Sawhney had travelled to western Uttar Pradesh districts soon after the riots that drove several Muslim survivors out of their homes and into refugee camps. He interviewed survivors, local residents, and activists and leaders of all hues to understand the conditions that contributed to the situation.

This film has been banned from screening at various places. Though it has been screened privately a few times, Sawhney hopes to circulate the film more widely in the coming months.

 

Next Story

Airstrike Escalates Fighting in Libya, Authorities Close Tripoli’s Only Functioning Airport

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

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Libyan protesters attend a demonstration to demand an end to the Khalifa Haftar's offensive against Tripoli, in Martyrs' Square in central Tripoli, Libya, April 19, 2019. VOA

Explosions shook the Libyan capital Tripoli late Saturday after an airstrike, residents said, in an escalation of a two-week offensive by eastern forces on the city held by the internationally recognized government.

A Reuters reporter and several interviewed residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital with a humming sound before opening fire on a southern suburb, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Reuters was unable to confirm whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in the past days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district.

Members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces fire during fighting with Eastern forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli, Libya, April 20, 2019.
Members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces fire during fighting with Eastern forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli, Libya, April 20, 2019. VOA

Haftar stymied

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed, this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Moammar Gadhafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

Tripoli, Libya
Tripoli, Libya

​In the past the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have supported Haftar with airstrikes during campaigns to take eastern Libya. Both countries flew airstrikes on Tripoli in 2014 during a different conflict to help a Haftar-allied force, U.S. officials said at the time.

Since 2014 the UAE and Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment such as aircraft and helicopters, helping Haftar to gain the upper hand in Libya’s eight-year conflict, past U.N. reports have established.

The UAE even built an air base in Al Khadim in eastern Libya, one such report said in 2017.

The air strikes, which were also filmed by residents in video posted online, came after a day of heavy clashes in southern districts, with shelling audible in the city center.

A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord fires a rocket propelled grenade during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara, April 20, 2019.
A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord fires a rocket propelled grenade during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli’s suburb of Ain Zara, April 20, 2019. VOA

Trump’s call to Haftar

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump spoke by with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a U.S. statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers and the Gulf have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 220 people and wounded 1,066, the World Heath organization (WHO) said.

It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce Monday’s phone call.

UN cease-fire

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time.

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Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya. (IANS)