A top Indian government official inaugurated a multi-screen cinema hall in Srinagar, the largest city in the restive Kashmir region, on Tuesday and it will begin showing movies next month, more than two decades after cinemas were closed there.
“The government is committed to change perceptions about Jammu and Kashmir and we know people want entertainment and they want to watch movies,” said Manoj Sinha, the region’s top official, while inaugurating the first multiplex in the city.
Inox, an Indian multiplex chain, is establishing the 520-seat hall with three screens in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Jammu and Kashmir region that has been at the forefront of violence since 1989.
Srinagar had over a dozen single screen cinema halls operational until then but a majority were forced to shut down after warnings from militant and separatist groups. The last cinema hall closed in 1999.
Sinha also inaugurated two cinema halls in Shopian and Pulwama, two of the worst militancy scarred districts in Kashmir.
Sinha has earlier said the federal government under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to establish fresh economic opportunities in the region despite high security risks, civilian protests and military crackdowns often leading to curfews and disruption.
The Kashmir valley region is one of the world’s most militarized areas, where militants have waged a decades-long war against Indian rule and tens of thousands of people have been killed.
Modi’s government has been encouraging local and international companies to set up businesses there after the region was brought under direct federal rule in 2019.
Last year, Dubai signed an accord to build infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, making it the first investment agreement by a foreign government in the region.