Movie theaters reopen in Indian-controlled Kashmir . after more than two decades


The Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, inaugurated the disputed region’s newest cinema on Tuesday, in a ceremony marked by much hype and fanfare.

“(The opening) is a reflection of a new dawn of people’s hopes, dreams, faiths and aspirations,” Sinha told reporters outside the theater in Indian Kashmir’s largest city, Srinagar, calling it a “historic” day. according to the press. Trust of India.

The theater held a special screening of the film “Lal Singh Chaddha”, a Bollywood remake of “Forrest Gump”, starring two of India’s biggest superstars, Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor.

The cinema will open to the public on September 30, according to businessman Vijay Dhar, who is working with Indian cinema chain Inox Leisure Ltd. to open the theater in Srinagar.

“I’m doing this from the heart. This is for Kashmir, it’s for the national interest,” Dhar told CNN.

“Bollywood and Kashmir have a long bond,” he said. “A lot of older Bollywood movies were shot in Kashmir. We’d like to see Bollywood come back, to create that same atmosphere.”

Inox Leisure Ltd. said it was “elated” by the opening in a post on Twitter, adding that it was “the beginning of a new era.”

Militancy closes cinema doors

Kashmir is one of the world’s most dangerous fires. The mountainous region, claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, has been the epicenter of an often violent territorial struggle between its nuclear-armed neighbors for more than 70 years. A de facto border called the Line of Control divides it between New Delhi and Islamabad.

In the late 1980s, a violent uprising in Indian-controlled Kashmir claimed the lives of more than 9,000 civilians, according to the Indian government, although estimates vary. Cinemas were forced to close in the aftermath.

Authorities tried to reopen them, but a deadly militant attack on the Regal Cinema in 1999 thwarted those efforts, the Press Trust of India reported.

In 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir and officially split the former state into two union territories, giving the New Delhi government greater control over the disputed Muslim-majority region.

After the move, Modi imposed a near-complete communications blackout for more than two and a half months – in a move that was heavily criticized by local leaders and sparked protests.

India said the move to revoke the status was to ensure that the nation’s laws were equal for all citizens and to increase economic development in the region, as well as end separatism and terrorism. which was allegedly aided and assisted by Pakistan.

Since then, the Indian government has introduced a series of policies that it believes will help develop the region.

Last year, the government introduced a policy to promote Indian-controlled Kashmir as a popular movie destination.

“A well-cherished film industry can be an important source of wealth creation, employment generation and an effective tool and platform for preserving the culture and expression of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said. “The industry can promote Jammu and Kashmir’s potential as an investment and tourism destination.”

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