Security was stepped up across the country as Rajput groups and other Hindu outfits vowed to intensify their protests against the release of the historical drama Padmaavat on Thursday.
Several schools were closed on Thursday in Gurugram after protestors threw rocks at a school bus with children inside on Wednesday. Police arrested 24 people in connection with the incident. A video captured just 13 seconds of the four-minute ordeal that the students, teachers and school staff went through as their bus went past the mob that had torched a Haryana Roadways bus moments before.
Dozens of protests were reported from across at least six states. The Multiplex Association of India said its members will not screen Padmaavat in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa. Cinema and multiplex owners in the five southern states and states such as Maharashtra and West Bengal are going ahead with the screening, The Times of India reported.
6.59 pm: Sri Ram Sena and Hindu Sena activists protest outside a cineplex in Chennai. There are reports of protests by Hindu outfits and Karni Sena in other parts of Chennai and Coimbatore.
6.45 pm: Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain calls the Padmaavat row a media hype for “TRPs and to sell newspapers”. Speaking in Jaipur, Hussain says, “There are more important issues like environment that deserve more coverage.”
6.42 pm: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says he has asked Rajput leaders to meet him and talk about the violence around the film’s release, the Hindustan Times reports. He says he will watch the film with other Rajput leaders like him.
6.36 pm: The makers of Padmaavat thank viewers for the support, reports CNN-News18. A statement from Viacom18 Motion Pictures says more than a million people watched the film on Thursday. “The feedback for the film has been overwhelming. We are grateful to the government, state authorities, police and our fans for making the opening a stellar success,” the statement says.
6.28 pm: Authorities ask government schools in Gujarat’s Mahisagar district not to use songs or scenes from the film in any of their Republic Day celebrations on Friday, PTI reported. District primary education officer Kishor Jani says the decision was taken to avoid controversy.
6.21 pm: Security is stepped up across Chittorgarh, and tourists are stopped from visiting the fort, CNN-News18 reports. Authorities stop buses from plying between Udaipur and Banswara.
6.20 pm: Padmaavat is not screened in Rajasthan. Around 179 theatres in the state are not showing the film, reports the Hindustan Times.
5.58 pm: Cinema halls in Karnataka are expected to open now as many of them were closed during the 12-hour state shutdown over the Mahadayi river dispute, IANS reports. The release of the film was delayed in theatres in the state because of the strike.
5.46 pm: The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which hears appeals against the decisions of the Central Board of Film Certification, dismisses an appeal filed by Jauhar Smriti Sansthan against the film Padmaavat as “not maintainable”. The “patron” of the organisation, Nirupma Kumari, had claimed to be a descendant of Queen Padmini.
5.35 pm: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh says films that hurt religious sentiments and are not based on historical facts should not be made, The Indian Express reports.
5.11 pm: Members of various organisations vandalise an eatery near Dewas in Madhya Pradesh, in protest against the film, ANI reports. Police intervene and remove the protestors.
5.07 pm: The occupancy in theatres during the 9 am screening of the film Padmaavat was around 60% in Delhi and 40%-45% in Mumbai, PTI reports, quoting a member of the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India. The response to the film was “positive”, says the member.
5.03 pm: A petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court earlier on Thursday, seeking action against the activists of Karni Sena for “disturbing peace”, PTI reports. The petition demanded that governments of states where incidents of violence took place be held accountable and be asked to pay for damages.
5.00 pm: A mob attacks a cinema hall, tears up posters of the film and damages vehicles in Bihar’s Nalanda district, News18 reports.
4.53 pm: Protests in Bihar have so far been “within the law”, and guidelines have been issued to police forces on giving protection to those screening and watching Padmaavat, says the state’s Additional Director General of Police Sanjeev Kumar Singhal. “If there is an untoward incident we will take action,” he tells ANI.
4.50 pm: Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria appeals to people to protest peacefully, ANI reports. The law and order situation in the state is peaceful, with only two minor incidents reported in Jalore and Udaipur, he says.
3.46 pm: Haryana Director General of Police BS Sandhu tells media the situation in the state is under control and around 30 people have been arrested for violent protests, according to ANI. “The government is providing complete protection to those who want to screen the film,” Sandhu says.
3.40 pm: A court in Sohna sends the men detained earlier for attacking a school bus in Gurugram to 14 days in judicial custody.
3.35 pm: Ministry of Home Affairs is watching the protests and incidents of violence and is coordinating with states over security arrangements, ANI quotes ministry sources as saying.
3.17 pm: Protestors burn tyres and shout slogans in Bihar’s Motihari.
3.03 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav blames BJP for protests. “On one hand, BJP is protesting, on the other, they pretend to control the situation arising out of the protests,” Firstpost quotes Yadav as saying. “Please go through CCTV camera footage of protests and you will know the people behind it.”
2.57 pm: In Haryana and Punjab, cinema hall managers say the film is getting a good response, the Hindustan Times reports.
2.54 pm: Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi hits out at the Bharatiya Janata Party government, Firstpost reports.
“The question is not about Karni Sena. When you are confronted with a situation like this, where people especially children suffer... What happens to you? They (BJP) should be ashamed of themselves that they continue to play politics over these issues,” she says,
2.14 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath asks all police chiefs in his state to make sure the film is screened peacefully and to take strict action against “anyone trying to disturb the peace”, NDTV reports.
1.49 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says he “could not sleep” after hearing about the attack on a school bus in Gurugram. “If our children are pelted with stones on the day before Republic Day, so close to the nation’s capital, it is a matter of shame for the entire nation,” he says.
1.13 pm: In Uttarakhand’s Rishikesh, Bajrang Dal workers clash with the police outside a cinema hall, according to ANI.
1.09 pm: The Delhi High Court rejects a plea asking to revoke Padmaavat’s certification. The bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar tell the petitioner, the general secretary of a Chittorgarh-based group, to go to the Supreme Court as it cleared the release of the film, PTI reports.
1.02 pm: Protestors vandalise a cinema hall in Jammu.
12.59 pm: Karni Sena members are seen protesting outside a cinema theatre in Lucknow and giving people roses to ask them not to watch the film.
12.38 pm: Police detain a man who tries to set himself on fire outside a cinema hall in Varanasi. Six others also try to set themselves on fire, reports Firstpost.
12.03 pm: Protestors vandalise shops in Udaipur during their agitation against Padmaavat. Security forces are trying to control the violence.
11.46 am: Rajput Karni Sena members hold a bike rally against Padmaavat in Jaipur.
11.45 am: Protesters brandish swords, burn tyres and block roads in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur in protest against the release of Padmaavat.
11.42 am: A fringe group in Kanpur announces a cash reward for Padmaavat actor Deepika Padukone’s nose. “We have collected crores of rupees from Kanpurites to be given as reward to anyone who will bring the chopped nose of Deepika Padukone,” Kanpur Kshatriya Mahasabha President Gajendra Singh Rajawat says, according to PTI.
11.40 am: Rajputs in Junagadh call for a strike in protest against the release of Padmaavat. Along with a few traders, they submit a letter calling for the strike to the tehsildar.
11.36 am: Members of the Rajput Karni Sena protest in Jaipur. Security forces can be seen at the spot.
11.23 am: Members of the Rajput community stage an agitation in Iqbalgadh in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district.
11.17 am: The Supreme Court will hear both petitions seeking contempt proceedings on Monday.
11.15 am: In a contempt petition filed against four states, the petitioner tells the Supreme Court that the governments had failed in their duty to maintain law and order.
11.08 am: The Supreme Court agrees to hear a contempt petition against three members of the Rajput Karni Sena for resorting to violence against the release of Padmaavat.
11.05 am: PVR Cinemas in Gurugram’s Ambience Mall cancels all Padmaavat screenings.
10.35 am: Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia questions Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the violent protests. “People from your party have used the ‘power of stones’ to attack schoolchildren,” says Sisodia. “Hundreds of parents are concerned and the children who were attacked will have nightmares. Will you do something prime minister?”
10.30 am: The situation is peaceful in the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. The police say security has been increased “as a precautionary measure”.
10.20 am: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh says that movies that hurt the sentiments of any religion or caste should not be made. His party colleague Manish Tewari tells News 18 that the Congress has been very critical of the violent protests. “No minister from the Centre is standing for the Central Board of Film Certification. We expect the Information and Broadcast Ministry to stand up for the censor board,” he says.
10.05 am: Vijender, the conductor of the school bus that was attacked in Gurugram on Wednesday, says they tried to navigate through the clashes between protestors and the police but got caught in the violence. “Fortunately, we were able to ensure the safety of the children, which was our priority,” he tells ANI.
9.55 am: People venture out to theatres to watch Padmaavat despite the threat of violence.
9.12 am: Police ready to thwart protestors outside a mall in Agra. In Mumbai, too, security had been tightened in anticipation of violence.
9.05 am: Padmaavat gets the go ahead for release in Pakistan. “CBFC isn’t biased in arts, creativity and healthy entertainment,” IANS quotes Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors chief Mobashir Hasan as saying.
8.50 am: The attack on the school bus is “very serious but there are also incidents which are blown out of proportion”, NDTV quotes Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as saying.
8.40 am: Schools in Guruguram, including Pathways school, GD Goenka School, Shiv Nadar School and Delhi Public School, to stay closed till Sunday after the attack on a school bus on Wednesday.
8.32 am: The Delhi Police takes members of various fringe groups into preventive detentions for planning to protest against Padmaavat. CNN-News18 reports that the state police did not want to take any chances with the ongoing ASEAN Summit.
8.12 am: Parents in Delhi and Gurugram are worried after the attack on a school bus.
8 am: Udaipur Additional District Magistrate SC Sharma issues an order asking students in both government and private schools to not perform the ‘Ghoomar’ song from Padmaavat during Republic Day celebrations, reports ANI.
7.40 am: “The best response is the one we can give to someone through the work we do,” says actor Deepika Padukone, who plays Rani Padmini in Padmaavat. “This time, I am excited about the box office because it is going to be earth shattering.”
7.30 am: Actor Deepika Padukone says it is extremely overwhelming to see Padmaavat being released. “I am very excited for the release tomorrow. Big day for all of us.”
7.25 am: “We have done everything, it is time for people to decide what they feel,” says Shahid Kapoor, who stars in the movie.
7.17 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi condemns the attack on the school bus in Gurugram and says no cause is big enough to justify the act. “Violence and hatred are the weapons of the weak,” he tweets. “The BJP’s use of hatred and violence is setting our entire country on fire.”
7.12 am: Additional security forces have been deployed at theatres and malls ahead of Padmaavat’s release.
7.00 am: In Mumbai, 100 people from across the city who are affiliated with the Rajput Karni Sena were taken into preventive detention, according to the Hindustan Times.