07/15/2009, 00.00
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Bollywood and India ’s movie industry involved in organised crime and terrorism

Urikhinbam Devita, a young actress, is arrested with the leader of the Kanglei Yawol Kann Lup separatist movement in Manipur. Her case exposes connections between Indian movie stars and organised crime. Once restricted to India ’s movie capital of Mumbai, the problem is now developing in other Indian States.

Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The arrest of a glamorous, award-winning actress in the hideout of one of India 's most wanted men could be the stuff of movies but in this case it is real life. Police and intelligence officials last week found Urikhinbam Devita—a 24-year-old Manipuri actress with more than 30 films to her credit—in the New Delhi den of R. K. Raghunath, key commander of the Kanglei Yawol Kann Lup (KYKL), a banned group fighting for the independence of the state of Manipur which is located on the border with Myanmar.

The young actress’ arrest on 16 June revived a debate over alleged links between India ’s underworld and its motion picture industry. The Devita and Raghunath story is in fact just another example in a series involving the country’s movie stars, some of whom have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act which is used to prosecute enemies of the state.

Her arrest coincided with the detention of well-known Manipuri cinematographer L. Surajkanta, accused by security forces of links with KYKL.

Some analysts and social commentators now fear that the “Bollywood virus”—a reference to the nexus between movies stars and organised crime—might be spreading to the rest of the country.

In Mumbai’s, capital of India ’s film industry with more than 900 movies a year, links between stars and criminals is the talk of the town.

“Before 9/11, Bollywood celebrities openly socialised with fugitive criminals wanted by Interpol, such as Ibrahim and Shakeel, at cocktail parties in Dubai or in the VIP boxes of the Sharjah cricket stadium,” syndicated columnist Manojit Mitra wrote.

But between 2001 and 2002 some Bollywood producers and actors ended up in court, causing the public to believe that the film industry had fallen into the hands of organised crime.

But as the United States geared up for its worldwide war on terror and India suffering from terror attacks in Mumbai last year, the issue fell off the radar screens.

But Devita’s arrest and other less glitzy crime news showed that the connection between the movie industry and organised crime was not a thing of the past.

A number of Bollywood actors and producers have already been tried and sentenced for ties with terrorists and criminal figures.

And relations between the two worlds are not just personal. Some movie stars have in fact been tried and sentenced for racketeering, kickbacks, money laundering, intimidation and even murder as well as involvement with terrorists guilty of hundreds of deaths.

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