Maoists demand release of Padmavati to uphold ‘freedom of expression’
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Maoists demand release of Padmavati to uphold ‘freedom of expression’

The left-wing extremists put up banners and pamphlets in the jungles of Bastar region in support of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial period-drama.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2017 20:10 IST
Ritesh Mishra, Raipur, Hindustan Times
Sanjay Leela Bhansali,Padmavati,Maoists
Deepika plays the titular role in Padmavati.(HT Photo )

The Maoists in Chhattisgarh have made a strong pitch for the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial period-drama Padmavati to uphold “freedom of expression.”

Banners and pamphlets were put up by the left-wing extremists in the jungles of Dantewada district in Bastar region a few days ago in support of the Deepika Padukone starrer, made on 14th century Rajput queen.

The Maoists demanded of the government to allow the screening of the movie advocating for the rights to freedom of expression, additional superintendent of police ( Naxal operations, Dantewada ) Abhishek Pallav said, confirming the development.

Members of the Rajput community and many political groups across the country were up in arms against the film, claiming it distorted history and degraded the community.

In the wake of the protests, five states—Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajashtan and Bihar—where BJP is in power banned the screening of the movie.

The unprecedented support for the movie by Maoists is viewed by police as part of the militants’ recent strategy shift—from anti-establishment to anti-BJP.

“It was alleged that the Maoists destroyed Dholkal Ganesh temple early this year…Naxals foraying and commenting on religious and cultural issues are a new phenomenon,” said a senior police officer posted in Bastar region.

“Maoists generally don’t comment or express opinion on movies or subjects that are not relevant to their movement. But of late, they have started expressing support to any issue which is either against the current BJP government or is opposed by the right-wing groups,” the officer added.

He further stated that most of the pamphlets circulated of late by the ultras contain criticism of right-wing groups.

Three BJP local leaders had been killed by the Maoists in the past three months in Jharkhand, another state affected by the left-wing extremism.

The Maoist’s support for the movie came amid the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) week the banned CPI (Maoist ) has been observing from December 2 to December 10 in the “memory” of the killing of three central committee members of the outfit in 1999 in Karimnagar district.

The security forces are on high alert in the Maoist-dominated areas of the state during this period.

“We have increased our patrolling in sensitive areas and strengthened our local intelligence network so that no road disruptions, arsons or violence take place during the period,” the ASP said.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 15:07 IST