New Delhi-Violent protests continued to rage in many states including Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, a day ahead of the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’.
Haryana Roadways bus was set ablaze and another vandalised in Bhondsi area in Gurugram district by a group of around 50 men, alleged to be Shri Rajput Karni Sena supporters. They also pelted stones at the Haryana police personnel deployed on the Gurugram-Alwar National Highway, injuring a few policemen.
On the other hand, a school bus carrying children and staff was also damaged in stone-pelting, though no one was said to be injured. Road traffic was disrupted for hours in the area following the violent protest by youths belonging to the Rajput community who had their faces covered.
The protesters ordered the passengers on the government bus to alight before torching the vehicle. Police said two persons have been detained for the violence.
Meanwhile, prohibitory orders have been imposed in Gurugram till Sunday to maintain law and order in view of the Karni Sena`s threat to target theatres screening the film. There are over 40 multiplexes and cinema halls in Gurugram.
“Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which bans unlawful assembly, has been imposed in view of `Padmaavat` release in various cinema halls and multiplexes on January 25 as there is likelihood of law and order problem,” an official said, IANS reported.
As per Section 144, people are banned from carrying firearms and other articles capable of causing injury, raising slogans and exhibiting placards within a 200-metre radius of cinema and multiplexes from January 23 to January 28, 2018.
Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow too witnessed protests near malls and theatres on Wednesday from activists claiming to be associated with a Rajput fringe group.
Even as the protests were underway, members of another fringe group, the Kanpur Kshatriya Mahasabha, announced a cash reward to anyone who chops off actor Deepika Padukone’s nose.
“We have collected crores of rupees from Kanpurites to be given as a reward to anyone who will bring the chopped nose of Deepika Padukone,” its president Gajendra Singh Rajawat told PTI in Kanpur.
A number of activists staged a protest outside two malls in Gomti Nagar area of the state capital. Police, however, managed to control the situation and detained a few activists. “The security around cinema halls have been increased. We will not let anyone take law in his hand,” a senior police official said.
In Gujarat, the government and various organisations of the Rajputs on Wednesday jointly announced that cinemas and multiplexes across the state will not screen `Padmaavat`while those opposing its release will not join the `Bharat bandh` on Thursday.
Flanked by two senior Ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradeepsinh Jadeja, representatives of Rajput bodies claimed they had no hand in violence in Ahmedabad on Tuesday and dubbed those involved as “anti-social elements”.
“Today (Wednesday), all theatres and multiplexes (in Gujarat) decided not to screen the movie. On behalf of the state government, I thank them for keeping in mind the sensitivities of the community and deciding against its screening,” Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, who is a Rajput, told reporters.
The minister, who held a meeting with several organisations, including Shri Rajput Karni Sena, said since the movie will now not be screened in Gujarat, nobody will join the shutdown called on the matter.
“Our opposition is not for the sake of just one particular community but to protect the sensitivities of the Hindus at large. No community can accept any distortion in any incident or historical character,” he said.
At the same time, in Ahmedabad, the police arrested 50 people in connection with the violence and vandalism outside malls on Tuesday night. As many as 30 bikes and scooters, parked outside three multiplexes in the city were set ablaze by protesters.
Further, a car caught fire during anti-Padmaavat protests in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday evening, with the police saying they were investigating whether the protesters torched the vehicle.
The car went up in flames at Jyoti Talkies Square, one of the busiest crossings in Bhopal. The protesters were trying to stage a road blockade when the incident took place.
Fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the flames.
However, a major portion of the car was already burnt by the time the fire tender reached the spot.
Also, nearly 200 protesters blocked National Highway-3, which links Agra with Mumbai, near Pigdambar crossing in Kishanganj area in Indore district and broke glass bottles on the road, police said.
As protests raged, a defiant Shree Rajput Karni Sena, which has been spearheading the opposition to the Bollywood period drama, sought to pin the blame on film director Bhansali.
The fringe outfit’s chief patron Lokendra Singh Kalvi also insisted that a ‘janta curfew’ will be imposed on theatres that screen the movie. He also claimed that Shiv Sena leaders had assured the Karni Sena of support on the issue in Maharashtra.
The fringe outfit leader also alleged that a dream sequence between the characters of Alauddin Khilji and Rani Padmavati existed in the controversial film, which, he said, was “intolerable”.
“Those who watched the film on the invitation by the censor board a few days back have said that there is a dream sequence between Alauddin Khilji and Rani Padmavati in the film. We have been demanding that there should be no dream sequence and no romantic scene between the two,” he told a press conference in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Striking a defiant pose, the Karni Sena leader said that he and other outfit leaders may be arrested and bullets fired but the protest would continue. “Janta curfew will be imposed on film halls at any cost. We are getting the support of film hall owners and film distributors,” Kalvi said.
The film stars Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.
The Supreme Court had paved the way for the nationwide release of ‘Padmaavat’ after some states had issued notifications banning the film.
The movie, which was earlier named ‘Padmavati’ and was slated for a December 1, 2017, release, will now hit theatres worldwide on January 25, 2018.
(With Agency inputs)