J&K minister Akhtar bats for re-opening cinemas halls in

Srinagar: Batting for re-opening of cinema halls in the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir minister Naeem Akhtar said today that while the government would take an initiative but the entire society should come together to ensure children are not kept away from genuine entertainment.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the second edition of Kashmir World Film Festival (KWFF) where more than 30 international, national and regional films will be screened over the next five days.

“We have denied our young generation cinema (halls). The whole world has cinemas, even Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia is also opening them now. I do not know why people do not think about opening cinemas here,” Akhtar said.

He said every house has a cinemas as television beams movies and so can mobile phones.

“So I do not why we are being stopped from going to cinema halls. The government will surely take an initiative on this, but the whole society has to come together on this. How much more time will we keep away our children from genuine entertainment,” Akhtar, who is the state government spokesman and Works Minister told reporters here.

The minister said the government would provide protection to cinema halls, but the society has to be ready for it.

“We can only give protection, but the basic thing is that the society has to be ready for this. There is song and dance in our marriage ceremonies apart from other things which area done normally. This is also a normal behaviour in today’s times. You (media) should also help us in this and there should be no difficulty in reopening of cinemas,” he said.

Many cinema halls closed in the Valley after militancy surfaced there in the 1990s and have remained so since then.

Earlier, speaking at the inaugural function at Tagore Hall, Akhtar said such festival will provide an avenue to local youth to tell their stories at a larger level.

“We have huge potential in Kashmir, but the only thing is that we don’t have avenues. Such festivals provide a platform for local youth to interact with the masters in the field and learn a lot,” he said.

The minister said that Kashmir has a rich history with the potential for making films on numerous story ideas. He called on the youth to explore the exciting world of cinema.

The minister praised the organisers for starting a five- day film workshop for the students that will be held alongside the festival.

Renowned filmmaker Govind Nihlani, Syed Mirza, Rajat Kapoor, Rahat Kazmi, Satish Kaul, Talat Rekhi, Phunsok and others were present.

Felicitating the film personalities with mementos, the minister said that in the era of breaking news syndrome, such festivals showing positive image of Kashmir is a welcome.