ibnlive » India

Dec 08, 2011 at 09:51pm IST

J&K govt wants to revive cinemas; hardliners fume

Srinagar: After 20 years of militancy, the Jammu and Kashmir government is saying there's a chance cinema halls and bars could re-open, but not everyone is welcoming that.

Firdous Cinema at the heart of Srinagar, recently cleared of troops after 20 years, has raised fresh hopes of a cinema revival in Kashmir.

Officially banned for the last 21 years, the re-opening of cinemas got a boost when National Conference (NC) supremo Farooq Abdullah advocated that liquor shops and cinemas should be made functional.

It drew a strong reaction from separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani who slammed him for "promoting immoral activities".

"The government is trying all the means to create cultural aggression," said Geelani.

Farooq's son Omar abdullah then took on the aging hawk on Twitter.

Even as chief minister Omar Abdullah came out in full support of his father's remarks on reopening of bars and cinema, the Opposition termed it as a needless controversy.

On the ground however the idea has few takers.

"No one listens to preaching of god here, everyone wants to go to cinema," said a youth. It doesn't matter if cinema opens here, one can watch it at home," said a young man.

Kashmir's official religious priest has now asked Abdullah senior to exercise restraint.

"He should be cautious with what he says. He should not hurt the feeling of the people," said chief official priest Mufti Bashir-ud-din.

While the Opposition accuses the father-son duo of deliberately raking flimsy issues to divert attention from the real ones, the ruling party is not complaining about the attention they are getting at the moment.