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Dimasa bodies allege 3-month-old baby died during shooting of Semkhor

The organisations also demanded justice for the family of the baby artist who was cast in the film, they said in the memorandum


In a fresh move against noted film-maker Aimee Baruah’s national award-winning film “Semkhor” five Dimasa organisations, on September 29, moved President of India Draupadi Murmu seeking justice to the family of a baby girl who died after the shooting of the film in “Semkhor” in Dima Hasao district.

“An 84-days-old baby died four days after the shooting of the film Semkhor due to exposure to cold,”- alleged the four organisations – Jadikhe Naisho Hoshom (JNH- Dimasa apex body), All Dimasa Students Union (ADSU), Dima Hasao District Committee, Dimasa Student Union (DSU), Central Committee, United Dimasa Youths (UDY) and Dimasa Students Community Guwahati (DSCG) wrote to the President two years after the incident occurred in the hill district.

“Aimee Baruah did not follow the complete legal formalities while shooting for the film Semkhor in Dima Hasao district and as a result, a baby girl had lost her life after being cast in the film,” the organisations alleged.

“The baby girl was just 84 days old when filmed in the movie and due to exposure to cold and rough weather condition at the time of filming the baby caught a sickness and following which she died four days later,” they said in the memorandum, the copies of which were also sent to Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

“Aimee Baruah did not take permission from the district magistrate before filming an infant baby in the film which she was supposed to, as per the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) and Regulation) Act (CALPRA), 1986 and this is a clear case of violation of laws,” they said.

“We hereby request your kind intervention into the matter and lay our representation before you seeking justice.

The organisations also demanded justice for the family of the baby artist who was cast in the film, they said in the memorandum

Speaking to The Meghalayan, United Dimasaa Youths (UDY) convenor Andesh Jidung said the baby girl was brought for performance in the film on October 19, 2020, and after some hours she was admitted in the hospital. Finally, she died on October 23, 2020, at 2.30 pm.”

The United Dimasa Youths organised a protest rally against the film ‘Semkhor’ on Thursday. Hundreds of people from various parts of Dima Hasao assembled at Cultural Institute Hall ground, Haflong at 9.30 am then the rally marched up to Council Rotary and assembled in front of the office of the deputy commissioner, Haflong.

The protesters demanded an immediate ban on Semkhor film which has caused serious concerns among the Dimasa Community for the misrepresentation of Dimasa culture in her movie.

In the memorandum, the organisations said: “The Dimasa language film ‘Semkhor’ directed and produced by Aimee Baruah represented Dimasa custom, tradition and livelihood in a very wrong way and this has hurt our sentiments and damaged the morality of our people.”

“The film portrays the Dimasa people against any kind of modern development, like road infrastructure, schools and medical facilities in the village Semkhor. The film portrays the extensive practice and belief of superstition and child marriage in the village. The film has misinterpreted the tradition of our community and at such a level that it portrays the practice of female infanticide in Dimasa society which is completely wrong and false. Such practices are never known to the Dimasa society since time immemorial,” the memorandum said.

“The film has been already screened in many film festivals worldwide and hence now the world knows us and our customs, tradition and livelihood through the lens of Aimee Baruah’s Semkhor and this is completely wrong,” they also said.

“While making Semkhor, Aimee Baruah never did extensive research work on Dimasa custom and tradition. Rather she went on with a half-baked story and is simply carried away with her passion to meet up her profession/ hobbies by which she can earn a name and fame and her act has led to a permanent dent in the morality of custom, tradition, and livelihood of the Dimasa tribe,” they further said.

The five Dimasa organisations urged the President to stop further screening of the film to avoid further damage to the mortality of the custom, traditions, and livelihood of the Dimasa people. They also sought a public apology from the director/ producer for misrepresenting Dimasa’s custom, tradition and livelihood in her film and compensation to the Dimasa society for defaming the customs, and morality of the community through the film.

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