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Police Complaint Filed Against Netflix Officials in India Alleging Abetment of ‘Love Jihad’

Police Complaint Filed Against Netflix Officials in India Alleging Abetment of ‘Love Jihad’

  • A government official said the allegation by Hindu groups that the controversial kissing scenes of the web series were shot inside a temple in Maheshwar has not been confirmed.

A new development in the uproar over Oscar-nominated director, Mira Nair’s BBC TV Series “A Suitable Boy,” which kicked up a social media ruckus in India on Sunday, Nov. 22, for purportedly promoting “love jihad,” and had netizens calling for the boycott of Netflix and Mira Nair, saw formal complaint filed with the Madhya Pradesh police against Netflix officials.

The First Information Report (FIR) was registered in Madhya Pradesh on Monday Nov. 23, against two executives of Netflix, Monika Shergill, Vice President, Content (Netflix) and Ambika Khurana, Director, Public Policies (Netflix), Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra told a news agency, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments as the series showed kissing scenes between a Hindu girl and her Muslim lover, purportedly on the premises of a temple, an official said.

Earlier, the officials were booked by Rewa police on a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national secretary Gourav Tiwari who demanded an apology from Netflix and the makers of the series, and removal of “objectionable scenes”, which he stated were also “encouraging love-jihad.”

‘Love Jihad’ — one of the most remarkable campaigns by right-wing conspiracy theorists in India, which crudely but effectively argues that Muslim men are waging jihad in India through so-called love marriages and forcible conversion of Hindu and Christian women into Islam.

“Kissing scenes (filmed) inside a temple of Lord Maheshwar (a historic town located on the banks of Narmada in Madhya Pradesh) have hurt the sentiments of Hindus. This is also encouraging ‘love jihad,” Tiwari had stated.

“I had asked officials to examine the series “A Suitable Boy” being streamed on Netflix to check if kissing scenes in it were filmed inside a temple and if it hurt religious sentiments. The examination prima facie found that these scenes are hurting the sentiments of a particular religion,” Mishra said in a video statement.

Meanwhile, district administrator of Khargone district Anugraha told Press Trust of India that the controversial kissing scenes do not appear to have been filmed inside a temple in Maheshwar town in the district.

“We have not received any formal complaint so far regarding the controversy surrounding the Netflix series. But taking cognizance of media reports, I sent a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and tehsildar to the spot at Maheshwar. We have inspected the fort complex where the web series was shot.”

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“There are also temples in the huge fort complex on the banks of the Narmada river at Maheshwar. But according to the SDM report, at first glance, it seems the controversial kissing scenes were not filmed inside the temple. Probably these scenes were shot somewhere else in the fort complex,” the collector said.

She said a committee will be constituted to probe the matter in detail if the government orders so.

“As of now, the allegation has not been confirmed that the controversial kissing scenes of the web series were shot inside a temple in Maheshwar. However, if the state government orders us, we will constitute a committee to investigate the matter in detail and send a report,” the collector said.

Anugraha said the district administration had allowed the shooting of “A Suitable Boy” in Maheshwar during December last year.“A Suitable Boy” was released in India by Netflix on October 23. With a stellar cast of some of India’s well-known actors like Tabu, Ishaan Khatter, Shahana Goswami and Ram Kapoor, the six-part, 7-hour drama is an epic tale of life and love is set in vibrant 1950s India. 

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