Vivek Agnihotri’s latest movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ has received a warm reception across the globe, with critics and audience heaping praises on the movie for depicting the plight of Kashmiri Pandits during the 1990s insurgency without mincing words. The movie, released on Friday, March 11, has so far collected Rs 59 crores in 5 days and is continuing its record-breaking run in the box office. It has also won accolades from all over the world, with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsing the film. It has also been made tax free in at least 6 states.
But the movie has also been called out as an attempt at propaganda by several others, including actors and opposition parties.
It is in this context that the director of the movie, Vivek Agnihotri tweeted a citation from the State Rhode Island, congratulating him for the release of the film, with the claim “HISTORIC: First time in 32 years, any state in the world, the democratic & liberal state of USA -Rhode Island, has officially recognised Kashmir Genocide due to a very small film. Pl read this and decide who is the persecutor and who should get the punishment. This is #NewIndia”
The archived version of the tweet can be accessed here.
Agnihotri’s claim that his movie made Rhode Island recognise the Kashmir genocide has been retweeted around 14,000 times and liked by around 50,000 users till the time of publishing this copy.
Social media users congratulated Agnihotri on his achievement after he claimed that the movie made Rhode Island recognise the Kashmir genocide. Several news and media outlets also picked up on the claim and reported that the movie made Rhode Island recognise the Kashmir genocide.
Several actors including Darshan Kumar, who acted in the movies, tweeted the same.
Newschecker thus decided to probe Agnihotri’s claim that the State of Rhode Island recognised the Kashmir genocide due to his film.
Fact check/ Verification
To verify if the claim is true, Newschecker began by analysing the attached document and found that the space above the name ‘Senator Brian Patrick Kennedy, Speaker Pro Tempore’, is blank and does not have any signature on it, while the other names carry their signatures above it.
One of the social media users, @vishalraina, also commented on the tweet saying that the claim was disputed by Rep Kennedy. We looked up further to find that Rep Kennedy is one of the senior members of the House of Representatives, first elected in 1988. His page on the website of the state of Rhode Island also had his email address, which Newschecker used to approach Rep Kennedy and understand the reality behind the citation.
Speaking to Newschecker, Rep. Kennedy confirmed that the citation was only meant as a congratulatory message and is by no means an endorsement of the movie or what has been depicted in it.
“A citation is what we provide to people for a special event of life. We give them to Boy Scouts who achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. We give them to students who attain a special honour or sports achievement. We provide them to retirees and those having a special birthday. A citation is simply the acknowledgement of a special event. It does NOT hold the weight of a Resolution approved by the members of the House. This citation was strictly given to the movie director for the premiere of his movie. It is nothing more and it is NOT an endorsement of the State of Rhode Island and the House of Representatives,” he said.
Explaining the circumstances of providing the citation, Rep Kennedy said, “I was contacted in December 2021 by an Indian-American from East Greenwich who is involved with the Federated Indian Organizations of New England regarding securing a citation for Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri for the premiere of his film “The Kashmir Files” that was being presented at Rhode Island College on Dec. 9, 2021. I had worked with this Rhode Island resident on securing citations for the performers at the annual Diwali Day Festival of Lights celebration at the State House in past years and told him I would be happy to secure a citation.”
“At the time, I was travelling for a legislative meeting from Dec. 8-10th, and I told him that I would have a citation prepared but I would not be able to personally sign it. Typically, I would sign my signature above where my name is printed,” he continued, explaining why there was no signature above his name.
Further clarifying on Agnihotri’s claims, Rep Kennedy told Newschecker, “The citation from the State was to simply recognize the premiere of this movie. I have not met the director nor was I present to view the movie, although I have seen scenes of the movie that were provided to me in advance of the showing. I understand there were over 250 people present at the movie premiere at Rhode Island College and that it was a very compelling movie that generated many emotions.”
Further, a careful perusal of the citation shows that the word ‘memorializing’ has been misspelt in the document, and Kashmir Valley has also been written as Kashmiri Valley, confirming that the authorities who published it, did not look into the content of the citation, but just jotted down what was handed to them.
We also found a tweet by Kashmiri journalist Raqib Hamid Naik, who said that the Speaker was not even aware that such a citation was made.
“Speaker Shekarchi was not aware of this citation that was requested by Rep. Kennedy in off-session. It is not official position of the House. All citations requested by House members carry the pre-printed names of the Speaker and the two Leaders,” Naik said quoting a staffer.
Representative Brian Patrick Kennedy’s response adequately proves that the citation was just a congratulatory message that was obtained after being approached by someone on behalf of Agnihotri and that it did not carry any official weight of recognition of the ‘Kashmir genocide’. The citation was a congratulatory message for the premiere of the movie in Rhode Island College. Hence, the claim that the movie made Rhode Island recognise the Kashmir genocide is misleading.
Result: Misleading/partly False
Newschecker’s Interview With Representative Brian Patrick Kennedy.
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