Seven booked in Chennai for not standing during national anthem at cinema hall
Seven people were booked for allegedly “disrespecting the national anthem” at a cinema hall in Chennai, police said on Monday, in what could be the first case under a controversial rule mandated by the Supreme Court.
The seven people, including a woman, allegedly took selfies inside Chennai’s Kasi Theatre on Sunday when the national anthem was being played, leading to an altercation with another group.
Police invoked provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 against the accused.
Last month, the Supreme Court asked all cinemas to play the national anthem before a film is screened, a controversial decision that many say will embolden right-wing Hindu groups pushing a strident brand of nationalism.
The police action in Chennai was based on a complaint filed by one Vijayakumar, who was part of the group which allegedly threatened the seven for not standing up when the 52-second-long Jana Gana Mana was being played.
Police said a patrol team saw two groups of cinema-goers fighting outside the theatre. They were taken for questioning and the seven booked later.
“…They started verbally abusing us, which we tried to ignore. They then came up to us during the interval and began hitting us when we said it was our right to not stand for the anthem should we choose not to,” said Leenus Roffun, one of the accused.
The accused woman, identified as M Shreela, also lodged a counter-complaint against Vijayakumar and his friends, accusing them of threatening and abusing her.