Faraaz, an Indian film produced in the context of sensational Holey Artisan Bakery attack in Dhaka’s Gulshan back in 2016, has been banned in Bangladesh – thereby raising question among many as to why a move of this kind has been taken.
What has been said exactly?
The High Court (HC) of Bangladesh directed the government on February 20 to take required steps immediately to stop screening and streaming of Indian movie titled ‘Faraaz’ on online platforms and televisions.
In response to a writ filed by Ruba Ahmed, mother of Abinta Kabir, who was killed on the spot by the militants at Holey Artisan on 1st July 2016, the HC bench of Md. Khasruzzaman and Justice Md. Iqbal Kabir passed this order.
The HC also asked the BTRC (Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take steps in this connection.
Authorities concerned of the government were also issued a rule to explain why their inaction to stop the screening and streaming of the film Faraaz on online platforms, televisions and cinema halls in Bangladesh should not be declared illegal.
Ruba Ahmed, while filing the writ, said if the Indian movie gets released, it may tarnish Bangladesh’s reputation in international circuits.
Moves before Faraaz release
Abinta’s family raised objections before the release of the movie in India, too. At that time, Ruba Ahmed at a press conference said that “the film featured our four family members, including Abinta. But they didn’t take any permission from us. They didn’t even respond to, when we raised objections and sent a legal notice through the court system. This has put us in an embarrassing situation.”
Prior to filing writ with the HC in Bangladesh, her family filed a petition with the Indian Supreme Court too, which was denied.
Advocate Ahsanul Karim, the petition lawyer of the writ, said several report that, the petition was made for banning projection of this film on both cinema halls and online media.
He also said, “A clip from this movie shows two attackers talking to each other. Abinta had a relationship with one of these two. Abinta was projected in such a dress that no girl from an educated family in our country would wear. So, this movie has maligned Abinta’s image by demonstrating her in an undignified way.”
According to the lawyer, “This film also depicted the failure of our armed forces officers, which calls our sovereignty into question.” Ahsanul Karim added, “Considering these factors, we think that this movie should not be telecast on any platform in Bangladesh. That’s why, we requested BTRC not to allow this movie to be shown on any platform – irrespective of theatres, OTT, Netflix, Amazon, or on any other site.”
‘Faraaz’ as a movie
The Indian movie was directed by filmmaker Hansal Mehta and based on the attack on Holey Artisan, where several people like Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain and Abinta Kabir were killed by militants alongside Tarishi Jain and Ishrat Akhond, among others. Two police officers were also killed in the attack. Later, the law enforcement agencies in a commando operation killed five militants involved in that tragedy.
The movie is produced by T-Series and Benaras Media Works. The Hansal Mehta-directed film was released in 100 cinema halls of India on this February 3.
Things you need to know
Holey Artisan is basically a bakery located in Gulshan, Dhaka. It is a popular place for both the foreigners and native people living in and around the area. On July 1, 2016, a five-member group of militants attacked this cafe with guns, sharp weapons, and grenades. Over a period of 12 hours, the attackers killed foreigners, including nine Italians, seven Japanese, an American, and an Indian. In addition to this, 12 Bangladeshis were also killed in the attack. Among them were police officers, hostages, bakery staff, and gunmen.
Though all of the gunmen were Bangladeshis, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed that they had a role in perpetrating the attack. But Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan rejected the claim of ISIL affiliation in the attack and said all of the militants were members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, a banned extremist group in Bangladesh.
The BBC described the incident as the “deadliest Islamist attack in Bangladesh history,” while the New York Times noted Holey Artisan as “one of the most beloved restaurants in Dhaka.”
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered an operation named “Operation Thunderbolt” to rescue the people attacked at Holey Artisan. The PM finalised the plan of that operation after a meeting with the chiefs of armed forces and top officials of law enforcement bodies.
The 1st Para-Commando Battalion led the operation under the leadership of Operational Commander Brig Gen Mujibur Rahman. Soldiers from the Army, Navy, BGB, Air Force, Police, RAB, and SWAT started their operation at 7:40 local time. Within 12–13 minutes, the forces took control of the spot, and the operation lasted for about 50 minutes.
The forces rescued a total of thirteen hostages and killed five of the attackers, while capturing the sixth attacker alive. A bakery chef was mistakenly identified as attacker, and shot dead unfortunately.
Extremist group’s savageries
Founded in 1998 with the aim of establishing Shariah law in Bangladesh, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen is notorious for their brutal bomb attacks. It became outlawed in 2005 following a series of bomb attacks in 300 locations across 63 districts of Bangladesh at a time. The government later hanged its two leaders – Shaykh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqur Rahman.
Harkat-ul-Jihad, another extremist group from Bangladesh, became outlawed at that moment because of their 2004 Dhaka grenade attack and 2001 Ramna Batamul bombings, which led to a number of deaths in both incidents. The leader of the organisation, Mufti Hannan, was also sentenced to death on December 23, 2008.
Bangladesh has experienced more than 30 such attacks since September 2015. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for 21 of these. Another extremist group named Ansarullah Bangla Team also claimed responsibility for some of these attacks.