Theatres in western parts of Uttar Pradesh have refused to screen the movie Muzaffarnagar – The Burning Love days after it was released across the country, according to The Indian Express.

The movie, directed by Harish Kumar, is based on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, and was released on November 17. However, it is not being screened in the districts of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Bijnor, Saharanpur and Baghpat. Of these five districts, only Bijnor was not affected by the riots.

Film producer Manoj Kumar Mandi said that the district administration had ordered the theatres not to screen the movie. “It is a commercial film inspired by the 2013 riots...officials in the Muzaffarnagar administration had seen the film and found nothing objectionable,” said Mandi. “An unwritten directive has been sent to cinema hall owners from the administrations of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Bijnor, Saharanpur and Baghpat districts not to run the film.”

However, Muzaffarnagar East Additional District Magistrate Harish Chandra said that they have not banned the film. “Cinema hall owners are scared of screening it,” he said. “Since [civic] elections will be held in the district, it could cause law and order problems.” The administration officials of the other districts also denied Mandi’s claims.

A single-screen theatre owner, Ramesh Gupta, however, said, “Cinema hall owners in the five districts have received an oral order from the administrations not to screen the film until the urban local body elections are over, as it could lead to law and order problem.” To ensure peace, the owners have decided to comply, he added.

Director Harish Kumar told IANS that the makers are ready to show the film to the administration and the managements of the cinema halls, but no one is co-operating. “If the censor board has passed the film, then why are they against the decision,” Kumar asked. “Does Central Board of Film Certification hold no value...Should the makers release a film by first showing it to all district magistrates?”

In September 2013, communal riots in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts killed 60 people and displaced thousands of Muslim families. Days later, reports of sexual assault and abuse also began to emerge.