The uproar over Aamir Khan’s PK escalated on Monday as Hindu radical groups vandalised theatres and multiplexes across several states, demanding a ban on the movie for apparently showing organised religion and godmen in a bad light.
Activists of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) along with fringe groups protested outside cinema halls, damaged property and ripped promotional posters of the film which they said has hurt religious sentiments of Hindus.
The protests undermined senior BJP leader LK Advani’s endorsement of the Rajkumar Hirani-directed movie as a “wonderful and courageous film” and that everybody should watch it.
The film, released on December 19, landed in trouble after Hindu seer, Dwarakapeeth Shankaracharya Swaroopananda Saraswati who has a large following in Varanasi, and yoga guru Baba Ramdev disapproved of several “objectionable scenes” in it.
“Derogatory remarks were made against the Hindu religion … this wouldn’t be tolerated at any cost,” said Madan Verma, a Bajrang Dal leader in Agra.
In Lucknow, inspector general of police (law and order) A Satish Ganesh said forces have been put on alert and seniors officers were told to make special security arrangements to prevent any communal flare-up in Uttar Pradesh.
The All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) executive committee member, Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahli, asked the censor board to snip out the objectionable scenes to avoid religious discord and maintain communal harmony.
Over two dozen Bajrang Dal activists — carrying sticks and iron rods — smashed window panes at theatres screening PK in Ahmedabad. “Why the movie shows only Hindu gods and godmen in poor light? Why Aamir Khan’s religion was not made fun of?” asked a leader of the hawkish Hindu outfit.
Police lodged a complaint against the vandals. “We have asked for CCTV footage to identify those involved in the incident,” an officer said.
Protests were witnessed in Jammu and Bhopal too. A police officer in the Madhya Pradesh capital said the film’s screening has not been stopped, though.
The Shiv Sena’s Jharkhand wing in Ranchi warned of unparallel protests if PK was not banned immediately. “The protest may turn violent if the situation demands,” a party leader said.
The Sena has been staging protests in Maharashtra and some pockets of Punjab since the release of the film in which an alien (Aamir) lands in India and gets trapped in religious prejudices.