Members of the Rajput Karni Sena and other Rajput-Kshatriya groups blocked highways and attacked public and private vehicles across Gujarat on Sunday, The Times of India reported. The groups have demanded a ban on the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat.
In Surat, Karni Sena members pelted stones at vehicles, burnt tyres and clashed with the police in several areas. “Of the five locations where protests were held, there was violence at four places,” said Surat Commissioner of Police Satish Sharma. “We are registering cases of rioting, damage to public property and assault on government servants against the protestors.”
The police arrested at least 16 people and resorted to baton charging to disperse demonstrators, according to The Times of India.
The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation was forced to suspend 800 buses headed to North Gujarat, including buses for Mehsana, Patan, Palanpur and Himatnagar. In Mehsana, five people were arrested for torching three buses.
Gujarat minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama claimed such protests were “natural”, and that the state government was looking for legal options after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on Padmaavat in four states, PTI reported. Besides Gujarat, the governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana had also banned the movie.
Protests in Noida
Fourteen miscreants were arrested in Noida and Greater Noida for violent protests. Fifteen protestors on bikes smashed glass screens at the Delhi-Noida Diect FLyway toll plaza on Sunday, The Indian Express reported. “At least 100 men were there,” an unidentified official at the Noida toll booth said. “They roughed up a toll booth operator and damaged the road divider.”
In Greater Noida, a group of demonstrators gathered at Pari Chowk and blocked roads. At 2 pm, protestors gathered at Venice Mall and tried to meet the management to oppose the release of Padmaavat.
“Several groups, such as the Karni Sena, Rajput Utthan Samiti and others, took part in protests,” Gautam Buddh Nagar Deputy Superintendent of Police Abhinandan said. “It started in parts of Greater Noida before reaching Noida. They almost blocked the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway and burnt tyres near Hajipur underpass. Their plan was to go to malls like Great India Place in Noida, but they were stopped near Dalit Prerna Sthal.”
A First Information Report was filed against 200 identified and 21 unidentified persons at the Noida Sector 20 Police Station.
Protests in Rajasthan
In Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh town, at least 200 women marched with swords in a “Swabhimaan” (self-respect) rally, the Hindustan Times reported. They demanded that the government either ban Padmaavat or give them permission to end their lives. The women gave government officials memoranda addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Governor Kalyan Singh.
The Rajput Karni Sena also staged a demonstration in Jaipur. The outfit said that it was confident that no cinema hall in the state will screen the movie.
Protest in Haryana
In the city of Kurukshetra in Haryana, 20-22 people vandalised a shopping mall on Sunday night. They reportedly opened fire and attacked the place with hammers and swords. “We have identified a few of them and further investigation is under way,” the police said.
Theatre owners in Ranchi threatened
Theatre owners in Jharkhand’s capital city Ranchi said they might not screen the movie after protestors tore posters and banners at a cinema hall on Sunday evening, the Hindustan Times reported.
“All 40 theatre owners of Ranchi have given us written assurance by signing on our memorandum that they would not exhibit the movie,” said Mukesh Singh Rajput, the president of the Ranchi wing of the Rajput Karni Sena. “Despite that, posters and banners were found in a cinema hall. The irate workers tore the posters, which was a message for hall owners in Jharkhand.”
Protests across Madhya Pradesh
The Karni Sena held protests in Ujjain, burnt tyres and blocked major roads from Ujjain to Nagda, Dewas to Maksi and Agar to Kota, News18 reported. Some workers also sat on roads connecting Mhow and Neemuch, affecting traffic.
The protests came on a day the government of Madhya Pradesh filed a petition in the Supreme Court against its order lifting the ban on the film in the state.