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Padmaavat release: Karni Sena warns theatres, SC to hear states seeking ban again

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 20:28 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Padmaavat,Padmaavat ban,Padmaavat movie ban
Karni Sena activists stage protest against the release of Padmaavat, in Bhopal.(PTI Photo)

Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh approached the Supreme Court on Monday seeking modification of an order that paved the way for Bollywood film Padmaavat’s nationwide release as violent protests against the period drama intensified across India.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra agreed to hear the applications on Tuesday after the states requested an urgent hearing and expressed fears of a law and order breakdown if the film is released as scheduled on Thursday.

The Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which has led the violent protests, also filed an application in the apex court, seeking to be heard in the matter. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also voiced its opposition to the film.

In its application, Madhya Pradesh said despite the January 18 order that stayed bans on Padmaavat by four states and instructed governments to provide security, many incidents of violence and vandalism had taken place.

“…despite the state’s obligation and best endeavours to protect the freedom of speech and maintain law and order, it is likely that the release of the film may cause breach of peace. It is submitted that the state is also duty bound to protect its citizens from any untoward incident and is thus empowered to take preventive measures in this regard,” said the Madhya Pradesh government.

Rajasthan said it will have to divert forces from Lok Sabha bypolls scheduled on January 29 to provide security for the movie.

The film, starring Deepika Padukone as legendary Rajput queen Padmini and Ranveer Singh as Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji, has battled mounting troubles for more than a year. The protesters, led by the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, are upset over the depiction of Padmini and especially a rumoured dream sequence between Padukone and Singh – a charge that director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has rejected.

Earlier this month, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) cleared the film after the title of the film changed from Padmavati to Padmaavat. A week later, four states – Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana –banned the film, only for these orders to be stayed by the SC.

But the protesters haven’t backed down.

In Jaipur, Karni Sena members issued open threats to cinema hall owners and two film distributors refused to make the film available. “If any cinema hall still decides to screen the film, and any sort of vandalism takes place, only the hall owner will be responsible for it,” said Narayan Singh Diwrala, district president of Karni Sena.

Members of Rajput outfits caused disruptions in various districts including Rajsamand, Jalore and Pratapgarh. In Bhilwara, a man climbed a mobile phone tower with a bottle of petrol in protest against the release of the film but climbed down hours later after police assured him of leniency, ANI reported.

In Madhya Pradesh, various caste-based organisations blocked roads in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain, Neemuch, Indore and Dewas and burnt posters of the film. In Bhopal, protesters threatened cinema hall owners if they screened the film.

“We will not allow the release of the movie as it is a matter of our pride. We are ready to give our lives,” said Karni Sena spokesperson Shivraj Singh Chandrawat. The group has already announced that Rajput women will commit Jauhar, a self-sacrifice ritual, if the film is released. Police said no FIR was registered against any protester but assured cinema owners of security.

In Gurgaon, Karni Sena founder-patron Lokendra Singh Kalvi said he had accepted Bhansali’s invitation to watch Padmaavat but reiterated his threat of a “janta” (public) curfew if the film is released. “I am certain the movie will not be released,” Kalvi said.

Violence also singed Gujarat, where tyres and buses were burnt in Surat and a single-screen threatre in Ahmedabad vandalised. “No one would be allowed to break law and order. Patrolling vans will also do videography and all the miscreants will be booked,” said director general of police Pramod Kumar.

In Mumbai, police promised security to theatre owners who would screen the movie. The Mumbai Police will ensure that no law and order issue is created and they will provide adequate security to the theatres screening it, a top police official said.

Tensions also rose in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district after a Dalit man allegedly posted a provocative comment on a Rajput man’s Facebook profile about the film. Members of the Hindu Raksha Sena burnt Bhansali’s effigy and warned of serious consequences if the film is released.

(with inputs from HT Correspondents in Jaipur, Bhopal, Gurgaon and Ahmedabad)

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 20:10 IST