Protests against ‘Padmaavat’ intensified in Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as fringe groups went on a rampage torching buses, damaging vehicles and destroying property.
The fringe groups are demanding that the film should not be screened despite the Supreme Court’s order lifting the bans imposed by some states and instructing others not to ban the film.
In Gururam, a violent mob set fire to a Haryana Roadways bus and damaged some vehicles.
A bus carrying school children was attacked, too. Reports reveal that stones were pelted on the bus shattering the windows. Visuals on TV showed children and school staff cowering in fear on the floor of the bus as it sped towards safety.
Scenes of violence were seen elsewhere in the country as well.
A mob vandalised a cinema hall in Jammu and tried to set it on fire. Reports say that miscreants broke the furniture in the theatre and set it on fire before police chased them away.
In Mathura, a mob blocked the Mathura-Agra route of the North Central Railway at Bhuteshwar station for about 10-20 minutes as a “symbolic blockade”. The protestors allegedly were members of the Shree Rajput Karni Sena.
“The agitators blocked a passenger train between Delhi and Mathura, for over 10 minutes at Bhuteshwar station in Mathura district,” GRP Inspector Gaurav Kumar Sharma said.
The train already has a scheduled stoppage of 10 minutes and the blockage added to a 10-minute delay, Sharma said.
Miscreants reportedly vandalised the historic Chittor fort.
Meanwhile, the Multiplex Association of India said has said that its members won’t screen the movie in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa.
Their decision comes in the wake of the violence and alleged threats from fringe groups. The association covers around 2,000 screens across the country.
“Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP and Goa – as the local management told us that the law and order situation is not conducive,” Deepak Asher, president of the association, told PTI.
“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,” he added.
Mumbai Police has said that it will provide adequate security to theatres wherever required.
Slated for release tomorrow, ‘Padmaavat’ is based on the 16th century poem by Malik Muhammed Jayasi according to which one of main reason behind Alauddin Khilji’s 1303 Siege of Chittor was the Sultan’s lust for Rani Padmini, the wife of Maharaja Ratan Singh of Mewar.
Deepika Padukone plays the titular Rajput queen, while Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh play Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khilji, respectively.
Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi said on Wednesday, 24 January, that his organisation won’t allow the release of the film as it “insults the mother, Rani Padmavati”.
(With inputs from agencies.)