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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Ban Padmaavat or give us nod to end life, say Rajput women in Chittorgarh

The protesters allege filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie Padmaavat hurts the sentiments of the Rajput community as it distorts history of Rajput queen Padmini.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2018 08:35 IST

Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Rajput women take part in Swabhimaan rally in Chittorgarh to protest release of Padmaavat.
Rajput women take part in Swabhimaan rally in Chittorgarh to protest release of Padmaavat.(HT Photo)

Rajput groups across the country demanding a ban on Hindi film Padmaavat dug in heels on Sunday, holding rallies and forcing wary state governments to ponder over security measures ahead of the movie’s release on January 25.

In Rajasthan, at least 200 Rajput women marched with swords in Chittorgarh town for a ‘Swabhimaan’ (self-respect) rally and ratcheted up the pressure with memorandums to ban the film or give them permission to end their lives.

Marching under the banners of Jauhar Kshatrani Manch, Shri Rajput Karni Sena and Jauhar Smriti Sansthan, the women gave government officials memorandums addressed to the President, Prime Minister, Rajasthan governor, and chief minister.

“They gave us the memoranda seeking a countrywide ban on the film,” said Suresh Kumar Khatik, sub-divisional officer of Chittorgarh.

Rajasthan government has indicated it would file a review petition on Monday in the Supreme Court against the top court’s order that stayed the decision of some states to ban the film’s screening.

The protesters allege filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie hurts the sentiments of the Rajput community as it distorts history of Rajput queen Padmini. Bhansali has denied the charges.

Incidentally, the women’s ‘Swabhimaan’ rally started from Jauhar Sthal in Chittorgarh fort, where queen Padmini and 16,000 other Rajput women are said to have committed jauhar (self-immolation) in the year 1303, preferring to die rather than be captured by Alauddin Khilji, then Muslim king of Delhi.

Bhansali’s Rs150-crore movie is based on Padmavat, a poem written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi about 500 years ago, which gives an account of a Rajput queen of Chittor choosing to kill herself rather than be captured by Khilji.

Historians are divided over whether the queen ever existed. Many Rajputs believe she did exist and accuse Bhansali of portraying her in a bad light.

The Jauhar Smriti Sansthan launched a two-day seminar titled ‘Padmini Ek Vastavikta’ in Chittorgarh to “bring out the historical truth about Queen Padmini”.

The Shri Rajput Karni Sena threatened to shut the doors of Amer and Nahargarh forts in Jaipur to protest the film’s release. “To protect Rajput pride, we will shut the doors of our forts,” said Mahipal Singh Makrana, president of the Karni Sena, who also called the SC order a fatwa (ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognised authority).

On January 18, the Supreme Court stayed orders by four states banning Padmaavat, paving the way for the film’s nationwide release.

Makrana had earlier urged soldiers of Rajput, Sikh and Jat regiments not to pick up arms for a day in protest against the film. “You defend the country throughout the year. For one day, defend the honour of your sisters and daughters,” he had urged the soldiers of what he called the “Kshatriya” regiments.

The Rajput body also called for a ‘janta’ (public) curfew across the country on January 25. Members of Karni Sena, which is spearheading the campaign against the film for more than a year, also met cinema hall owners and urged them not to screen the film.

Bus services suspended in north Gujarat

The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) suspended its bus services in northern parts of the state following violent protests against Padmaavat’s release.

GSRTC secretary KD Desai said, “Owing to the attacks on state buses in some parts of north Gujarat yesterday, we have temporarily suspended our operations for Gandhinagar, Himmatnagar, Mehsana and Banaskantha. The services for other destinations, such as in central and south Gujarat, are on as per the schedule.”

Desai said though they tried to resume the service in Gandhinagar in the morning, some people targeted a bus at a village in the district. “Thus, we have decided to halt the operations. We are in constant touch with police and will resume the service as soon as the situation becomes normal.”

Desai said the decision was taken while keeping in mind the safety of passengers, as troublemakers were coming on motorcycles and fleeing after throwing burning objects on buses.

Protests in Gwalior

Kshatriya Mahasabha leaders and workers staged a demonstration in Gwalior and presented roses to cinema hall owners, requesting them not to screen Padmaavat, but warned them of consequences if they did.

“We took to the streets and staged our protest in a Gandhian way. However, if the cinema hall owners don’t pay heed to our request and go ahead with release of the movie, they will be responsible for any situation,” said Ramkumar Singh Sikarwar, district president of Kshatriya Mahasabha, Gwalior. “We will stage our protest on January 24 again,” he added.

On Saturday, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said the government might move the SC to ensure the movie is banned in Madhya Pradesh.

UP theatre owners pin their hope on govt for security

Various Rajput and Hindu bodies staged demonstrations across Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP government is yet to take an official stand on the movie’s release.

“Har woh cinema ghar jalega jisme Padmaavat chalega (All cinema halls screening Padmaavat would be set on fire),” chanted Rajput youths protesting in Lucknow Hazratganj area.

Protests were held in Noida outside some multiplexes, while in Shamli and Gorakhpur, effigies of Bhansali and the film’s actors were torched.

“Our youth are talking to cinema hall owners on the issue. We respect the Supreme Court, but at the same time, the society is feeling hurt at the manner in which our sentiments have been hurt by the cinematic depiction of the character of a queen who is revered by Rajputs,” said Pratapgarh MP Harivansh Singh, the national chief of All India Kshatriya Mahasabha.

UP police said the Supreme Court order left little scope for doubt about the film’s release. “It’s a categorical order and we will do what the honourable court has ordered. As far as protests are concerned, we will persuade protesters not to take the law into their hands,” said Anand Kumar, UP’s additional director general (crime and law and order).

Cinema hall owners hoped the government would ensure security for the film’s screening.

“We are confident the government will deploy adequate security outside our theatres and multiplexes,” said a theatre owner who did not want to be named.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s office and home department officials were not immediately available for comment on cinema hall owners being pressured not to screen the film.

(With inputs from Ahmedabad, Gwalior, Lucknow and agencies)