Padmaavat: Fringe runs riot, multiplex body says won’t screen movie in 4 states
Protesters stepped up their campaign against period drama Padmaavat on Wednesday, a day ahead of its nationwide release, prompting theatre owners in several states to hold off from screening the movie.
Acts of vandalism were reported from states including Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana following overnight protests and arson in Gujarat. State police chiefs promised increased protection for cinema halls on Thursday but the movie will not be screened in the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, the Multiplex Association of India said. The protests are being spearheaded by Rajput groups and their allies unhappy with the depiction of legendary queen Padmini in the movie.
Just 15 kms away from the national capital, a Haryana Roadways bus carrying 25 passengers was burnt by about 50-60 protesters. Stones were thrown at a school bus in Gurgaon, leading to minor injuries to some students, the police said.
The Congress termed the attack on the school bus as “reprehensible” and “devastating” and attacked the Haryana government for the “deteriorating law and order situation”.
Police arrested 24 persons for the violence and several schools in he National Capital Region said they will remain shut on Thursday.
The spree of incidents also included a youth’s attempt to immolate himself in Lucknow, road and rail traffic blockages in Jaipur and Mathura, burning of vehicles Bhopal, and stone-pelting in Etawah and Meerut. Police resorted to lathi-charges in Lucknow and Indore to disperse agitating crowds.
Lokendra Singh Kalvi, chief of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena that has emerged at the forefront of the protests, blamed Padmaavat producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali for the violence, saying the filmmaker has hurt the pride of Rajputs. He warned of widespread protests when the film is released, saying, “I may be arrested and bullets may be fired but this cannot stop us.”
In Delhi’s Prashant Vihar, miscreants damaged around half a dozen cars while trying to stop a special screening of the film at a PVR theatre. “A group of 15-20 men damaged the cars in Maurya Enclave and tried to block traffic but ran away when we reached,” said deputy commissioner of police (north west) Aslam Khan.
A youth tried to set himself on fire outside a multiplex in Lucknow where protests were witnessed at several cinema halls leading to the arrest of five persons, including some Lucknow University students. Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, police arrested eight persons in Etawah for attacking vehicles while protestors stopped a train in Mathura, damaged a cinema hall in Meerut and burnt a bus in Noida. Special screenings were cancelled in a majority of theatres and multiplexes across the state and theatre owners said they would not be playing the movie tomorrow.
Theatre owners in Haryana have also announced that they will not show the Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh starrer.
Both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, whose pleas to ban the movie were rejected by the Supreme Court, witnessed violent incidents in which alleged members of the Karni Sena damaged state roadways buses and blocked traffic on the national highways.
Traffic on the Delhi-Jaipur and Jaipur-Ajmer highways in Rajasthan and Agra-Mumbai highway in Indore was stopped.
Jaipur’s police commissioner Sanjay Agarwal said additional security will be provided at the Jaipur Literature Festival starting Thursday, following a threat by the Karni Sena that it will protest against the presence of Central Board of Film Certification chief Prasoon Joshi at the festival.
In Ahmedabad, police registered four cases and arrested over 48 persons day after alleged Karni Sena members ransacked four malls and burnt vehicles. No incident was reported on Wednesday.
As a precautionary measure before the film’s release, about 100 Karni Sena members in Mumbai and 20 in Nashik were detained by the police.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to grant an urgent hearing to remove certain scenes from the film and deferred the matter to January 29.
The Supreme Court had last week paved the way for the nationwide release of “Padmaavat”, by staying the ban on the movie in four states. Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that everyone should adhere to the verdict of the court.
“Law and order must be maintained. The organisations who are creating trouble are pro-BJP organizations. Like Bajrang Dal and others. BJP must restrain such organizations,” she said.