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Sainiks leave city to escape cops

As the police began picking up Shiv Sainiks from their homes — to prevent disruption of the release of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer My Name is Khan — many Sena workers started leaving the city, reports Rajendra Aklekar.

mumbai Updated: Feb 10, 2010 01:33 IST
Rajendra Aklekar

As the police began picking up Shiv Sainiks from their homes — to prevent disruption of the release of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer My Name is Khan — many Sena workers started leaving the city on Tuesday.

But they plan to return on Friday when the movie will be released to allegedly create trouble.

“We won’t allow the movie to be released. Shah Rukh should come and apologise to Balasaheb. Only then can we have talks,” said Manohar Joshi, party leader and former Lok Sabha speaker.

The issue, which blew up after Khan spoke in favour of the inclusion of cricketers from Pakistan in the IPL, seemed to have settled by last weekend. But the Sena stepped up protests on Tuesday. Sainiks demonstrated outside nine theatres and vandalised three. They stalled advance bookings and tearing up film posters.

“I was watching the matinee show when I heard loud noise. I ran out to see the windows smashed while a crowd had gathered outside, pelting stones,” said Lalit Yadav, a resident of Mulund. Sainiks blackened posters of the film in Dadar and King’s Circle.

Late in the evening, Sainiks pelted stones at Metro Cinema, Marine Lines and allegedly ransacked New Empire theatre at Fort. The police arrested 380 suspected Sainiks.

“We will continue protests against Shah Rukh,” Sena MP and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut said. “Let them release the movie, we’ll see.”

Police Commissioner D. Sivanandhan assured theatre owners of “every possible” security. The police are also contemplating booking senior leaders if violence continues. Filmmaker Karan Johar also visited Sivanandhan’s office to express concern.

Sivanandhan has said theatre owners anticipating trouble can fax their complaints to his direct number 2262 1835.

Four companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been called, the commissioner said. Thirteen SRPF companies, who were in Mumbai during Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s visit, are still here. Weekly leave of all policemen has been cancelled.

Khan’s security and the guard at his residence have been stepped up. Sivanandhan said other crew of the film will also be protected if necessary.

(With inputs from Debasish Panigrahi and Megha Sood)