New Delhi: Even as the producer of The Kerala Story told the high court on Friday, May 5, that the controversial film would remove the misleading claim that 32,000 women from the southern state converted to Islam and joined ISIS, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed on the same day at an election rally in Karnataka that it “exposes” the designs of terrorists.
According to the news agency ANI, the prime minister said at an election rally in Ballari that the film is “based on a terror conspiracy” and “shows the ugly truth of terrorism”. He added, “The Congress is opposing the film made on terrorism and standing with terror tendencies. Congress has shielded terrorism for the vote bank.”
#WATCH | ‘The Kerala Story’ film is based on a terror conspiracy. It shows the ugly truth of terrorism and exposes terrorists’ design. Congress is opposing the film made on terrorism and standing with terror tendencies. Congress has shielded terrorism for the vote bank: PM… pic.twitter.com/qlUQlc3qQf
— ANI (@ANI) May 5, 2023
The film, which claims to be based on a true story, has been the target of angry protests in Kerala. Both the ruling CPI(M) and the opposition Congress have accused the film of trying to polarise the Malayali community along communal lines to benefit the RSS-BJP. While there have been some cases of women from the state converting to Islam and becoming so-called “ISIS brides”, the film’s claim that it tells the story of 32,000 women has come under criticism. The inflated number, critics have argued, is designed to paint the state as a hub of Islamic terrorism.
Earlier in the day, the counsel for the producers of the film, Sunshine House told the Kerala high court, which was hearing a plea to ban the film, that the claim that over 32,000 women from Kerala were recruited to ISIS will be removed from their social media accounts.
Court: How did you say 32,000 girls?
Kadam: It was based on some information we got. It was only teaser which we have agreed to no longer continue on our social media platform.
Court: Can we record that?
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) May 5, 2023
The high court recorded the statement of the producers that the claim would be dropped. It rejected the plea to ban the film’s release.
According to The News Minute‘s editor-in-chief Dhanya Rajendran, while the producers have agreed to drop the misleading claim in the teaser, the film says that 50,000 women from Kerala “have gone missing”.
This is very much in the movie. In fact the movie scene says 50,000 have gone missing, only 716 cases filed and only 200 odd found. Says these are not innocent conversions. (just elaborating the claims from previous tweet) https://t.co/rfZbalbUf0
— Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) May 5, 2023
Prime Minister Modi has begun campaigning extensively in Karnataka as the campaign nears its end. Earlier, he said that the Congress wanted to lock up those who say “Jai Bajrang Bali”, an apparent dig at the party’s promise to ban the Bajrang Dal. He has also concluded election rallies with the slogan “Jai Bajrang Bali”. The Congress has accused him of deliberately conflating the Bajrang Dal with Lord Hanuman in an effort to polarise the electorate.
The tone of the prime minister’s campaign, focusing on religious nationalism and terrorism, comes close on the heels of pre-poll surveys showing that there is an anti-incumbency wave in Karnataka against the Basavaraj Bommai government for its perceived corrupt image. The state will vote on May 10, while the results will be announced on May 13.