As violent protests against the release of film Padmaavat continued on Wednesday, the Multiplex Association of India said its members would not screen the period drama in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa.
The decision of the association, which represents about 75 per cent of the multiplex owners in the country, came as Rajput outfits and other fringe elements vandalised malls, burned vehicles, and issued open threats to theatre owners and public in their bid to stall its release, claiming distortion of history.
Earlier in the day, theatre owners in Gujarat said ‘Padmaavat’ will not be screened in any of the multiplexes or single screens in the State till the row over the film is resolved, even as police arrested 50 people in connection with the violence outside malls in Ahmedabad last night.
The Gujarat Multiplex Owners Association said the decision has been taken for the safety of customers as well as to save their property.
“For us safety of patrons is important. Depending on the scenario, we will see if the atmosphere is safe, then we will play it (in these four states). Things could change (but) at the moment we are looking at safety of people,” Deepak Asher, president of the association, told PTI.
Even in the states where the film would be released, private security guards would be deployed outside cinema halls besides police, he said.
Karni Sena warns of ‘Janta curfew’
Lokendra Singh Kalvi, the chief patron of right-wing outfit Shree Rajput Karni Sena, on Wednesday, announced that a ‘Janta curfew’ will be imposed on theatres screening the movie. “Those who watched the film on the invitation by the censor board 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 said.
Members of the Karni Sena damaged windows of two Rajasthan roadways buses and blocked a road in Kalwar area in Jaipur. “One bus was on its way to New Delhi from Sikar and the second was coming from New Delhi. Windows of the buses were damaged but there was no report of any injury,” said a policeman of Neema Ka Thana Police Station in Sikar district.
SP Jalore Vikas Kumar said nearly 50 people assembled in Bagoda for protests, prompting the authorities to seal a few areas in the town. “People have been demonstrating against the film. But the situation is peaceful now,” Mr. Kumar said.
In Chittorgarh, a few women were prevented from entering Chittor Fort for holding a protest, Deputy SP Gajendara Singh said.
Bus torched in Haryana
A Haryana Roadways bus was set on fire in Bhondsi village allegedly by Karni Sena activists. A police official in Gurugram said there was no loss of life in the incident.
Prohibitory orders have been imposed in Gurugram as a precautionary measure, though no incident of violence were reported in the city on Wednesday.
Hundreds of Karni Sena supporters staged protests near the Khidki- Daula toll plaza on the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway. Police removed the agitators from the scene and ensured ssmooth flow of traffic.
Meanwhile, rumours spread across Gurugram that pubs and bars have been asked to shut down from Wednesday evening. The Gurugram Police rubbished these reports as rumours and informed through their twitter handle that educational institutions and offices will work as usual tomorrow.
Protests in Lucknow
In Lucknow, Rajput groups protested near near malls and theatres. A number of activists of the Karni Sena staged protests outside two malls in Gomti Nagar area. The police used mild force to disperse protesters gathered outside Gomti Nagar police station after a few activists were detained.
“The security around cinema halls have been increased. We will not let anyone take law in his hand,” a senior police official said. An alert has been sounded and all the district police chiefs have been asked to remain vigilant across Uttar Pradesh.
NH-3 blocked briefly
Protests spread to Madhya Pradesh too where as many as 200 activists belonging to various fringe outfits 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.
Heated arguments ensued between the protesters, who included members of Karni Sena, and the police when the Rajput group members tried to stop vehicles as part of their protest.
Around 50 Karni Sena activists armed with sticks burnt an effigy of Bhansali on Indore-Depalpur road, police said. A police officer said the road was cleared after the protesters were given a warning.
Agitations were also carried out in Sagar, Guna, Bhopal, Ratlam and other towns in Madhya Pradesh against the movie.
Theatre vandalised in Jammu
A group of men protesting against the movie vandalised a cinema theatre on Canal Road in Jammu and even tried to set it on fire.
The protesters broke furniture and other fixtures and lit the fire before theatre staff and onlookers doused the flames. Police chased away the mob.