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Mallika?s visit marred by protests

BOLLYWOOD ACTRESS Mallika Sherawat, known for sizzling on the silver screen with her dare bare acts, has raised the hackles of the City?s self-styled moral and cultural police to such an extent that they opposed her visit to the City today to inaugurate a showroom.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 18:02 IST

BOLLYWOOD ACTRESS Mallika Sherawat, known for sizzling on the silver screen with her dare bare acts, has raised the hackles of the City’s self-styled moral and cultural police to such an extent that they opposed her visit to the City today to inaugurate a showroom. This forced Mallika to use a ‘burkha’ while travelling from the airport to her hotel.

The actress was slated to inaugurate K-Lounge, a garments showroom, franchise of Killer Jeans at Treasure Island on MG Road. Showroom owner Vinod Gandhi had advertised the event in newspapers and other publications giving the time as 11 am today. However, in view of the recent incidents wherein saffron brigade activists and others had gone on the rampage in the City, made the mall administration cautious.

The mall management issued a terse statement on Saturday night stating that ‘on account of the objections raised by certain organisations and the conditions prevalent in the City, they had denied permission for holding the inaugural function at the mall’. The administration feared that outlets of other big brands that already had presence at the mall would become easy targets for a mob pelting stones.

Gandhi, however, remained adamant on getting his showroom - the 29th franchise of the company - opened at the hands of their brand ambassador Mallika. He countered that the actress had not been invited by him, she was being sent by the company as their official representative and as he was paying high rent for showroom space, he had every right to call whoever he pleased.

He contacted senior police officials and administration that promised to provide full security. After a round of talks an agreement was reached between the mall administration and Gandhi, allowing the function to take place.

The streets leading to Treasure Island were cordoned off and a large blanket of policemen, including Special Task Force (STF) personnel, covered the entire area from 10.30 am. Security men maintained a tight vigil and stopped people from entering and even asked for identification passes from members of the Press who were allowed inside after much haggling.

Once allowed inside the showroom no one was allowed to go out. After about an hour, Mallika Sherawat was brought from the backdoor up the flight of stairs to the second floor. Dressed in a casual suit she dazzled the people tired from the long wait with her electric presence.

Meanwhile, outside the mall Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists raised slogans but were chased off by policemen. But, not before they managed to tear down the posters announcing the actress’s arrival. The angry activists vent their ire on all posters featuring the actress adorning roadside and City walls and later burnt her effigy at Regal Square.

Inside, Mallika Sherawat already aware of the controversy and surrounded by a sea of media persons initially refused to speak to the Press. After much persuasion, she only gave the usual statement of being happy over coming to the City.

However, her secretary jostled to make way for the actress and in the chaos several media persons were shoved and unceremoniously shown the door, resulting in a brawl and later scuffle between Press and spectators on the one side and mall security officers on the other. Four security men and their chief were said to have been badly beaten up and have sustained cuts, bruises and slight injury.

The unnecessary hype, hoopla and controversy generated over a simple visit of a starlet not only marred the grace usually associated with grand openings, but also shamed the City known for its courtesy and hospitality offered to visitors.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 18:02 IST