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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.

 

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Efforts to Contain Spread of Ebola Virus to Remain Elusive Unless Cycle of Violence is Broken

A senior World Health Organization official warns efforts to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus

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Ebola workers enter a house to decontaminate the body of a woman suspected of dying from Ebola, before the vehicle of the health ministry Ebola response team was attacked in Beni, northeastern Congo Monday, June 24, 2019. VOA

A senior World Health Organization official warns efforts to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo will remain elusive unless the vicious cycle of violence in the region is broken.  Latest WHO figures put the number of Ebola cases at 2284, including 1540 deaths and 637 survivors.

WHO Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response Ibrahima Soce Fall says there has been good progress in scaling up operations to contain the spread of the deadly ebola virus in conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

Fall has just returned from a three-month stint in Butembo, the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic in DR Congo.  He says last week there were 79 new Ebola cases, 27 fewer than the previous week.  He says infections are continuing to fall in the major urban centers of Butembo and Katwa thanks to coverage in all 33 health areas.

At the same time, he tells VOA the operation is running into difficulty in the rural areas of Mabalako and Mandima, the new hot spots of the epidemic.

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Congolese security forces attend the scene after the vehicle of a health ministry Ebola response team was attacked in Beni, northeastern Congo Monday, June 24, 2019. VOA

“The access is more challenging.  In the same area, we have some villages where you have both ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) armed group coming from Uganda and some Mai Mai groups,” said Fall.  “So, access needs to be assessed on a daily basis to be able to move up to the intervention.  So, it is really important to take into account this very volatile situation.”

Eastern DRC has been politically unstable since 1998.   There are an estimated 4.5 million internally displaced people in the country.  The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says new displacements are occurring mainly in the eastern provinces of Ituri and North and South Kivu.  More than 100 armed groups reportedly are engaged in sporadic fighting in the region.

Fall says constant and skilled negotiations with the armed groups are needed to gain access to these volatile areas.

“The outbreak started there last year and spread to other areas,” Fall said. “So, it is important to break this vicious cycle to contain very quickly the situation in Mabalako and Mandima, where we have more than 55 percent of the cases coming from.”

Also Read- Americans Arrive in Canada Seeking Affordable Prices for Insulin

Fall says it will be exceedingly difficult to contain the virus if more money is not immediately forthcoming.   He says $98 million is needed to support the government-led response to defeat ebola.  To date, he says less than half that amount has been received. (VOA)