First multiplex theatre in Kashmir faces roadblock

Opening of first multiplex theatre in Kashmir hits roadblock

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The opening of the first multiplex theatre in Kashmir may have hit a roadblock as the owner of the Hospitality company, which is constructing the multiplex theater, has accused authorities of “creating unnecessary hurdles” in execution of the project.

Vijay Dhar, a prominent Kashmiri businessman, who is coming up with the first of its kind of entertainment centre in Srinagar, alleged that Badami Bagh Cantonment Board is raising objections when the construction is near completion.

“Military Estates Officer, who deals with the defense lands, has not raised any objection, so what are the grounds of objection raised by the Cantonment Board?” he asked.

Dhar, who also runs a prominent school in the city, said former J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik had come up with the idea of allowing construction of multiplexes on proprietary land in Kashmir. Vijay is son of late D.P. Dhar, a prominent Kashmiri Pandit politician who was a Minister in the Indira Gandhi government.

However, the CEO, Cantonment Board, Upendra Kumar said they had in 2018 approved a “proposal for a hotel on the same land where multiplex is coming up now”.

“We have written to Srinagar administration after we received an objection letter about the land ownership. Even the building plan has also been changed by the cinema developers,” Kumar said.

When militancy erupted in Kashmir in late 1989, all the cinema halls in the major towns were shut following threats to the owners by militant organisations. Some of the theatres shut on December 31, 1989 in Srinagar included Regal, Palladium, Khayam, Firdous, Shah Cinema, Neelam, Shiraz, Khayam and Broadway.

After the closure of movie theatres, the first attempt to open cinema halls was made in 1998, when three theatres - Neelam, Regal and Broadway - opened in Srinagar. However, after militants lobbed a grenade on Regal, which also led to the death of one person, it closed down.

Since last week, reports were abuzz in Srinagar that after three decades, people in Kashmir will be able to see Bollywood films on the big screen by March next year. However, the latest controversy may delay the opening of the only multiplex theatre in Srinagar.