The stand-off over Shah Rukh Khan’s movie, My Name Is Khan, continued on Wednesday, with violent protests by Shiv Sena activists forcing theatres to shut advance bookings.
The movie is slated to be released on February 12.
By Wednesday evening, the row over the film almost turned into a battle between the Congress and the Shiv Sena. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan took control of the police action as the crackdown against Sena activists continued. By the end of Wednesday, 1,600 sainiks had been arrested under various preventive and penal sections.
Fifty senior Sena leaders were issued notices to stay away from violence or face arrest.
Sainiks allegedly tore a billboard of the movie at Andheri and pelted stones at a theatre in Kandivli. Shops at Parel and Labaug areas were shut for two hours following a bandh called by the Sena.
The Mumbai police also issued an advisory to theatres where the film is scheduled to be released, asking them to take precautions to prevent incidents such as vandalising.
“Wait and see what happens on February 12,” party spokesman Sanjay Raut said. “The government is out to suppress our voice... Let Chavan do whatever he can, we will not back down. We are sure he will lose his chair when this agitation ends.”
Though Chavan has told Mumbaikars to “be fearless and go out”, he also said the SRK-Sena controversy should be resolved by “mutual understanding”.
Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, who surrendered his security on Tuesday, said the government could offer his security personnel to 26/11 attacker Ajmal Kasab. Though there was speculation that more Sena leaders had surrendered their security cover, Mumbai Police commissioner D. Sivanandhan said none had.
While Johar kept silent, Khan, before leaving for Abu Dhabi to attend the premiere of the movie, said he hoped the matter would be settled and the film released.