Hours after the Supreme Court decided to cancel the ban imposed by some states on the release of film Padmaavat, Rajput Karni Sena workers on Thursday allegedly vandalised a cinema hall in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.
The incident took place at Jyoti cinema hall in the city's Mithanpura police station area where the protesters came brandishing swords and wearing saffron head scarves, SHO Vijay Kumar said.
He said the Karni Sena activists raised slogans like 'Jai Maa Bhavani' and 'Padmaavat ko ban karo' as they tore down posters of the Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone starrer which is based on the legend surrounding queen Padmini, the wife of 14th century Mewar king Ratan Singh who lost his kingdom to invading Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji.
Before departing, the protesters also warned the staff of the cinema hall not to screen the movie which is scheduled for release on 25 January, the SHO said, adding that no arrests have been made so far and investigations were on.
Earlier in the day, the apex court rejected notifications issued by Rajasthan and Gujarat governments banning the screening of the movie, clearing decks for its release on January 25 across the country. The bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra and also comprised of Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked other states not to issue such orders of banning the film in their states. "We direct that there shall be a stay of operation on the notification and orders issued and we also restrain other states from issuing such notifications or orders in this matter,” the bench said in its interim order.
Senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who were representing filmmakers told the bench that states did not have any power to issue such orders when the film has been cleared by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The court then posted the matter for next hearing on the matter in March.Producers had approached the court challenging the order to four states, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, to ban the screening of the movie in their respective states. Representing Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the notifications were only issued only by Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Though the Bihar government did not order a ban on the movie, which has been accused by Rajput groups of portraying Padmini in an objectionable manner, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been advocating that the producer, the director and the star cast of "Padmaavat" clear the air on misgivings surrounding the Sanjay Leela Bhansali venture.
Speaking to reporters in Ujjain soon after the Supreme Court decision, Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi appealed to social organisations to help in not letting the film run on theatres across the country. "Will appeal to all social organisations in the country to help stop the film’s release across the country. People should impose curfew near cinema halls.”
Kalvi also made an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban the release of the controversial film, which threatens to disrupt the social fabric of the country.
Right-wing Hindu fringe groups across the country have threatened violent protests if the film is screened even as two of the four states said though they respect the top court order they will explore the option of filing an appeal.
Haryana health minister Anil Vij, who had earlier said he will not allow the movie to be screened, said the top court gave the decision without hearing their side. He added since "the Supreme Court is supreme we will abide by the decision... and see if there is a scope of appealing against it”.
The threats, however, continued to pour in from fringe Hindu right-wing activists, ranging from jauhar (mass self-immolation by women) to burning cinema halls that screen the film.
BJP’s Rajput leader Suraj Pal Amu, who had offered a Rs 10-crore bounty for beheading Padukone and Bhansali, said he will protest in a peaceful manner.
"The Supreme Court order has hurt the sentiments of lakhs and crores of Hindus. My protest will continue, even if I am hanged for it,” Amu said.
On November 29 last year, Amu had resigned as chief media coordinator of the BJP’s state unit, days after the party served a show cause notice to him for the Rs 10-crore bounty offer.
In Chhattisgarh, members of the Rajput community submitted a memorandum to state home minister Ramsewak Paikra, demanding a ban on the release of Padmaavat, saying cinema halls screening the film will be burnt down.
Featuring Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati, Shahid Kapoor as Maharaja Rawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji, the film was given a U/A certificate from CBFC recently and is slated to release on January 25..