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India

Kaali Poster Row: Delhi, UP Police File Cases; India Urges Canada To Remove “Provocative Material”

A massive row has erupted after the Madurai-born filmmaker based in Toronto in Canada shared a poster of 'Kaali' on Twitter on Saturday allegedly depicting the goddess in a disrespectful manner. The poster showed the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag.

Kaali Poster
Kaali, a documentary film, depicts the Hindu goddess smoking a cigarette. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

New Delhi/Lucknow: The Delhi Police and the Uttar Pradesh police have filed separate FIRs against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai over a controversial poster of her documentary ‘Kaali’ even as the Indian government urged Canadian authorities to take down all the “provocative material” in the film.

A massive row has erupted after the Madurai-born filmmaker based in Toronto in Canada shared a poster of ‘Kaali’ on Twitter on Saturday allegedly depicting the goddess in a disrespectful manner. The poster showed the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag.

A senior Delhi police officer said on Tuesday that from the contents of a complaint and the social media post, prima facie an offence under sections 153A and 295A of the IPC was made out and a case registered against Manimekalai at the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operation (IFSO) unit of the Special Cell.

While Section 153A deals with the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, Section 295A relates to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

A probe in the matter has been launched, the officer said, adding the case was filed on the basis of a complaint received from a lawyer.

In Lucknow, the FIR was registered at the Hazratganj police station against Manimekalai, producer of ‘Kaali’ Asha Associates and editor Shravan Onachan on Monday night, police said.

The FIR was lodged under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and sections 66 and 67 of the Information Technology(IT) Act, the police added.

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The Indian High Commission in Ottawa urged the Canadian authorities to take down all “provocative material” related to the film after it received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about the “disrespectful depiction” of Hindu Gods. The film was showcased as part of the ‘Under the Tent’ project at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.

“Our Consulate General in Toronto has conveyed these concerns to the organisers of the event. We are also informed that several Hindu groups have approached authorities in Canada to take action,” according to the high commission statement.

“We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organisers to withdraw all such provocative material.”

Under attack over the film poster, Manimekalai on Monday said she will continue to use her voice fearlessly till she is alive.

“I have nothing to lose. Till the time I live, I wish to live with a voice that speaks what I believe without fear. If the price for that is my life, it can be given,” she wrote in a tweet in Tamil in response to an article on the controversy.

The filmmaker also urged people to watch the documentary to understand the context behind the poster.