Tension prevailed in Sangli, home district of Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil, when pro-Hindutva activists tried to forcibly shut down screening of the controversial film Jodhaa Akbar. The film was released in Sangli theatres nearly a fortnight ago.
Agitations were held by Shivpratap, an outfit floated by former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) full-timer Sambhaji Bhide.
The police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the agitators. While 25 youths were arrested for violating prohibitory orders, almost 100 injured protestors were admitted to local hospitals.
In the morning, over 100 protestors raised slogans and tried to disrupt the screening of the film outside New Pride multiplex on Madhav nagar Road, and outside Trimurti Theatre in Vakhar bhag where the film was slated for screening.
The police appealed to the activists to disperse, as prohibitory orders were in force. The protestors then assembled at a common place near the Shivaji statue located near the state transport bus stand.
Addressing the assembled protestors, Bhide said the film distorted historical facts. It was then that Sangli Superintendent of Police, Krishna Prakash, who was also present at the place, requested Bhide not to make provocative speeches and asked him to leave the place.
As the requests went unheeded, Prakash ordered a lathicharge.
Bhide, a staunch devotee of Shivaji Maharaj and who has a considerable following among local youth, too was assaulted in the melee.
As news of the assault on Bhide spread, angry protestors resorted to stone-pelting in which at least 10 state transport buses were damaged.
Besides, a home appliance showroom, a few shops and the local government hospital were also damaged. in Gaonbhag area, angry youths set afire a police chowky.
A group of youths, who had gone to meet District Collector Ravindra Chavan to register a protest against the police assault on Bhide, pelted stones at the district collector’s official car parked in the collector’s office premises.