Batla House, a film based on an encounter in Delhi, is facing protests from the residents of Azamgarh—the Uttar Pradesh district which earned the sobriquet 'Atankgarh' (bastion of terror) in the wake of the encounter.
The encounter that took place in Delhi on September 19, 2008, left two young men from Sanjarpur village in Azamgarh dead. Batla House was the name of the building in Jamia Nagar in the Okhla area where they were living. Following the encounter, many young boys and men from the village had run away or gone missing. As of today, one case relating to the encounter is being tried, while 16 other men from the district are being tried on a range of terror charges in different parts of the country.
Shabad Ahmed, whose son was among those who had gone missing and is now being tried in a case of bombing, said, “The trailer of the film says it is based on true events. Such a film can impact the verdict of the ongoing cases. During the election campaign, the PM had come to Azamgarh and said there will never be any attempt to bring a bad name to Azamgarh again. Then why is this film being released?”
The film, slated for release on August 15, stars John Abraham and Mrunal Thakur in the lead, and is directed by Nikhil Advani.
Masihudin Sanjari, a Sanjarpur based teacher, who had taught mathematics to the two men who were shot in the encounter, said the teaser of the movie is extremely misleading. “One of the dialogues goes: 'This is a student, but he is misguided'. Is that for a gun-toting cop to decide? It is an attempt to normalise an extra-judicial killing. In another scene there is mention of a judicial probe, which never happened in the case,” he told THE WEEK.
For the village, which had already became quite infamous as gangster Abu Salem hailed from there, the road to recovery has been long and painful. Soon after the encounter, many young men studying for engineering or medical competitive exams in different parts of the country were ousted by landlords. Besides, in many of the terror attacks in the country that followed, the Azamgarh connection was invariably probed.
A case, filed in the Delhi High Court for staying the release of the film, will come up for hearing on August 13. Sanjari said they do not expect much from the verdict. “But at least we would have firmly registered that we are against this wholly untrue projection”, he told THE WEEK.