Seven people in Chennai and six in Kerala were booked for allegedly “disrespecting the national anthem”.
Last month, the Supreme Court asked all cinemas to play the national anthem before a film is screened, a controversial decision that many say will embolden right-wing Hindu groups pushing a strident brand of nationalism.
In Chennai, the seven people, including a woman, allegedly took selfies inside Chennai’s Kasi Theatre on Sunday when the national anthem was being played, leading to an altercation with another group.
The police action was based on a complaint filed by one Vijayakumar, who was part of the group which allegedly threatened the seven for not standing up when the 52-second-long Jana Gana Mana was being played.
Police said a patrol team saw two groups of cinema-goers fighting outside the theatre.
They were taken for questioning and the seven booked later.
“…They started verbally abusing us, which we tried to ignore. They then came up to us during the interval and began hitting us when we said it was our right to not stand for the anthem should we choose not to,” said Leenus Roffun, one of the accused.
The accused woman, identified as M Shreela, also lodged a counter-complaint against Vijayakumar and his friends, accusing them of threatening and abusing her.
In Kerala, at least six persons were taken into custody for allegedly showing disrespect to the national anthem after they allegedly refused to stand up while it was being played at the ongoing International Film Festival of Kerala(IFFK).
They refused to stand up while the national anthem was being played in Kannakakunnu Nishagandhi open air theatre at IFFK, police said. Later, police took them to Museum police station.
DGP Loknath Behra directed police to keep a watch all those who show disrespect to national anthem during the film festival.
He also directed the officials to take into custody those who insult the national anthem.