A day before the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat in theatres across India, protests against the movie gained momentum, forcing the police to heighten security. Several theatres were vandalised, protestors blocked highways and roads, and set tyres on fire, demanding a ban on Padmaavat.
There were protests reported in Mathura, the Delhi-Jaipur Highway, Meerut, Lucknow, Gurugram, Jammu and outside Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, among several other cities. Suspected members of the Rajpur Karni Sena even set a school bus on fire and burned down a state transport bus on Sohna Road in Gurugram, according to NDTV. The report said students were still inside the bus when the protestors began to pelt stones at it.
Protestors set a car on fire in Bhopal, burned down several vehicles in Ahmedabad and blocked a train in Mathura. Rajput groups also held demonstrations against Padmaavat in Beawar in Rajasthan.
The Haryana Police have deployed additional units across the state to main law and order in the wake of protests against Padmaavat. “Maximum possible preventive arrangements will remain in place for tomorrow,” said Mohammed Akil, Haryana’s assistant director general of police for law and order.
While the Rajput Karni Sena is believed to be behind most of the violence, its chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi claimed members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or Bajrang Dal could be responsible for setting the vehicles on fire.
Padmaavat was supposed to hit the screens on December 7, 2017, but its release and certification were delayed and stalled because of repeated protests and threats of violence by Rajput groups led by the Rajput Karni Sena. Protestors have maintained that the film distorted the “history of Hindus” and insulted Rajput queen Padmini, even though most historians believe she was a mythical character.
With the threat of attacks looming large, the Multiplex Association of India said its members will not screen Padmaavat in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, News18 reported. The association, which represents about 75% of the multiplex owners in India, made the decision after Rajput outfits issued threats.
Earlier in the day, reports said clubs and bars in the district had been ordered to stay closed from 7 pm on Wednesday till further orders. However, Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram Vinay Pratap Singh reportedly denied that any such order had been issued.
“We already imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure but not directed pubs and bars to stay shut,” he said, according to News18. “All pubs and bars will remain open. The police are undertaking adequate patrolling.”