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Blockade at Chittorgarh Fort, plea in Supreme Court as Padmavati protests spread

Police have stepped up security at the residences of actor Deepika Padukone and Padmavati’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali as Rajput organisations such as the Karni Sena step up their opposition to the release of the film

india Updated: Nov 17, 2017 19:45 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Jaipur
Padmavati movie,Padmavati protests,karni Sena
Protesters burn effigies of film maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali as they call for a ban on his movie Padmavati, in Rajasthan's Bikaner on Friday. (PTI Photo)

Protests against the movie Padmavati intensified on Friday in several places across the country with hundreds taking to the streets in Rajasthan, Haryana, and even southern Tamil Nadu demanding a ban on the Bollywood film that they say has distorted facts and hurt their sentiments.

Protesters blocked the entrance to the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan’s Chittor, which is associated with the legendary Rajput queen Padmini, saying they will not allow the film based on her life to be released.

The Rajput community and organisations such as the Karni Sena have alleged that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film depicts an “amorous relationship” between Padmavati – portrayed by actor Deepika Padukone – and Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji – played by Ranveer Singh.

Makers of the film have denied the allegations on several occasions.

The Sarv Samaj Sangathan and some other outfits have also said a song in the film, which shows Padukone dancing the traditional ghoomar, crossed “dramatic license”.

“A dharna demanding a ban on Padmavati is continuing for the last eight days at Padan Pole. The Chittorgarh Fort will be closed for tourists today (Friday),” member of Sarv Samaj Sangathan and president of Jauhar Samriti Sansthan Ummed Singh said.

However, superintendent of police of Chittorgarh Prashant Kumar Khamesra said the fort, a world heritage site, is not officially closed.

“We have been informed by the protesters that entry to the fort will be blocked for tourists. We have made ample security arrangements to deal with the situation,” he said.

New agency ANI reported that several shots were fired during the protests against the film outside Chittorgarh fort. The Hindustan Times could not verify the report.

In March, the Chittorgarh Fort was vandalised by a group of men who broke the mirrors installed at the so-called Padmini Palace.

Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) managing director Pradeep Kumar Borad has ruled out any change in the operations of the luxury train — Palace on Wheels — and said it would run through the circuit and will go to Chittorgarh. Borad, when asked whether the tourists would be taken to Chittorgarh Fort, said the local administration be able to comment on it better.

Members of the Rajput Karni Sena in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore also demanded the film be banned.

Protest march in Hisar

In Haryana’s Hisar, Karni Sena staged a motorcycle march from the IG chowk to DC office and burnt the effigy of Bhansali. More than 50 members of the Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena were led by its state president Bhawani Singh.

The protesters also handed over a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded a ban on the screening of Padmavati in India.

“The filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali did this movie without knowing proper facts about Rani Padmavati. Bhansali is mocking history,” Bhawani Singh told the Hindustan Times. “We have only one demand from the Prime Minister that they must not allow the screening of the movie in the state and in India also,” Singh added.

‘Deepika is trying to provoke us’

Rajput Karni Sena chief Kalvi on Friday lashed out at Padukone, saying she was not the president of India to roll out orders on the release of Padmavati.

“Who will tolerate the fact that Rani Padmavati is being shown as the lover of Allauddin Khilji? Deepika Padukone, in her statement, said that the film would be released at any cost. She is not the president of this nation. She is trying to provoke us,” Kalvi was quoted as saying by ANI.

He also condemned Bhansali for using Rani Padmavati’s name. “If I ever meet him I will ask him to not use my mother’s name. I will not tolerate this,” Kalvi said in Patna, the capital of Bihar.

He added it was not just the Karni Sena but everyone in the society has come forward to speak against the film.

“Now, I will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a stand and stop this film from being released. The Centre needs to decide what has to be done here,” Kalvi added.

Kalvi said earlier the lakhs of Sena’s members will gather for a nation-wide shutdown on December 1, when the film is scheduled to be released.

Women belonging to the Rajput community also protested against Padmavati in Patna and said they will not let the film be released in the state.

Padmavati dragged to court again

A lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma filed a fresh petition on Friday in the Supreme Court against Padmavati, seeking the removal of “objectionable scenes”. The top court said it would consider the plea but refused to give any date for a hearing.

Last week, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, dismissed the petition filed by three individuals, saying the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has not yet issued a certificate to the movie.

It said the CBFC is an independent body and the court should not intervene in their jurisdiction.

The movie has been facing trouble since January this year.

The first attack took place at Jaipur’s Jaigarh fort when scores of Karni Sena members barged into the sets and assaulted movie staff, including Bhansali.

The incident triggered outrage and drew condemnation from Bollywood but Bhansali soon appeared to reach a compromise with the protesters by agreeing to delete the sequences.

Sena’s patron Kalvi, who claims to be the 37th descendant of Ratan Singh of Chittorgarh, said Bhansali did not honour the commitment and released film’s trailer.

The controversy over the film took an ugly turn on Thursday after a leader of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena warned Deepika Padukone against “inciting” sentiments and threatened to main her citing an episode from the Hindu epic Ramayana.

“The Rajput Karni Sena is fighting to protect the image of women being portrayed in the films. We never raise a hand on women but, if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshmana did to Shurpanakha for violating the rules and culture of India,” Mahipal Singh said.

Mumbai Police tightened the security of Padukone as well as at Bhansali’s residence in Versova area of the city.

Both the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have spoken in favour of the Rajputs, an influential vote bank in the state. Rajasthan goes to polls in December 2018.

Members of former royal families, including Jaipur’s Diya Kumari who is a BJP legislator, and even a non-Rajput royal Vishvendra Singh of Bharatpur – who is a Jat and a Congress legislator – have raised their voices against the film.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 17:13 IST