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Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) honoured renowned documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan in Vancouver on Monday, October 7.

Patwardhan was presented with the Radical Desi medal of courage for making powerful documentaries challenging the state power and reactionary forces.

He was here in connection with the screening of his latest documentary at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).

Reason is based on the murders of at least four rationalists and thinkers who were assassinated by Hindu extremists in India. The perpetrators of these crimes enjoy the political patronage of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The documentary reveals how the Indian government, led by controversial Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has shielded those involved in terror activities targeting Muslims.

Reason also looks into the broader issue of growing attacks on religious minorities, oppressed communities and political dissidents under the Modi government. There were attempts to stop the public screening of the film in India. So much so, some Hindu fanatics openly called for physical violence against Patwardhan during a press conference right in his presence. The footage of this incident was part of the film.

Patwardhan has made similar documentaries in the past, including In Memory of Friends which was based on the murders of Communist revolutionaries who were systematically killed by the Sikh fundamentalists in Punjab during 1980s.

IAPI was formed in response to the growing violence against minorities and efforts to turn India into a Hindu theocracy ever since Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014. Radical Desi is an online magazine that covers alternative politics and has been raising these issues in the Indian Diaspora in partnership with IAPI.

Patwardhan was presented with the medal right at the beginning of the screening by the members of IAPI, including its President Parshotam Dosanjh. Others present on behalf of IAPI at the event were Rakesh Kumar and Tejinder Sharma. The IAPI spokesman Gurpreet Singh told the audience that they wanted to honour Patwardhan for keeping the idea of India alive under these difficult times. He also congratulated the organizers of VIFF for bringing such a film to the festival to make Canadians aware of what is happening in India.


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