The Maharashtra government on Friday promised to protect Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan after he came under attack from the Shiv Sena for advocating the cause of Pakistani cricketers in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe told reporters that the government was ready to provide Shah Rukh security if he desired it.
The minister also vowed to give "full security" to all the players in the IPL matches.
The Shiv Sena hit out at the actor, who is also the Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner, after he said that he would have picked a Pakistani player for IPL matches if his team had a slot.
The IPL teams' failure to select even a single Pakistani cricketer has raised a storm in Pakistan.
Attacking Shah Rukh for espousing the cause of Pakistani players, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said if the actor was so keen on them, "he could go play his matches in Lahore, not in India".
"Pakistan has been blatantly indulging in terror activities and killing our innocent people. Sena is firm in not allowing Pakistani players on our soil," Raut told reporters.
Taking the issue further, Thane Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde announced that no film of Shah Rukh would be screened in the district.
"Since Shah Rukh Khan has hurt the sentiments of the people by his utterances, we have decided that his films will not be exhibited in any cinema or multiplex in the entire Thane district," said Shinde.
Shah Rukh's latest movie, "My Name Is Khan", is due for global release Feb 12.
Shah Rukh had said in Ahmedabad Wednesday that there was a need to create an environment where IPL franchisees could recruit Pakistani players with ease.
He said that his team had exhausted its quota of foreign players by picking up Shane Bond. Otherwise, he would have loved to have Pakistanis in the Kolkata Knight Riders.
In a related development, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray lashed out at industrialist Mukesh Ambani for his views in London that Mumbai belonged to the whole country.
Saying that the industrialist was "not in his senses" when he made the statement, Thackeray said that "Mumbai belonged to Marathis" as much as Reliance Industries belonged Mukesh Ambani.