Protests ahead of Padmaavat release; Raj govt wants royals to be a party in SC
Protesters in Rajsamand and Barmer blocked highways while a youth climbed a mobile phone network tower in Bhilwara today as fringe and right-wing groups continued protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmaavat' which is due for release on January 25.
The Rajasthan government, meanwhile, invited the Mewar royal family and the Karni Sena, which is leading the protests, to become a party to its petition in the Supreme Court against an earlier ruling that lifted the ban on the movie in the state. Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said Mewar royal Arvind Singh had watched the film and the case in the Supreme Court would become strong if both Karni Sena and the Mewar royal family become a party to the state government's petition.
"We are equally affected as are the people. We have exercised all the rights we have within the framework of law and constitution so that peoples' sentiment and law and order issues can be addressed," Kataria said. The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) too joined other right-wing groups demanding that the film should not be allowed to be screened.
"Hindu organisations should hit the streets to lodge a strong protest against the film in a democratic manner. The issue is not concerned only with Rajputs but all Hindu castes that sacrificed lives in Jauhar," VHP international working president Praveen Togadia said.
He said the VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Hindu organisations should not let the film release in the country. Talking to reporters at the Jaipur International Airport, Togadia demanded that the Centre bring an ordinance to ban the film's release as it did with regard to the Supreme Court order in the 'Jallikattu' case.
"If it does not happen then people should take part in 'Janta curfew' to not let the film release," he added. Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena president Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi also demanded that the Centre should take steps to stop the film release.
"CBFC functions under the Centre's ambit so it should take steps to not let release the film. The centre should bring an ordinance against the film. People are starting 'Rasta Roko' campaign from today and may block railway tracks tomorrow for which the Centre and the CBFC are responsible," Gogamedi said.
As a protester, a 20-year-old youth Rajendra Singh climbed a mobile phone network tower in Bhilwara district demanding a ban on the Bollywood flick, SP Bhilwara Pradeep Mohan Sharma said. The youth was convinced and brought down, he said.
Fringe groups are upset at the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for clearing the controversy-mired period drama after suggesting some modifications. It has been alleged that historical facts have been distorted in the film. Congress leader and former Union minister Jitendra Singh said that Rani Padmini was revered as an ideal by the people.
"Action should be taken, if historical facts are being distorted by anyone," he said. In Rajsamand and Barmer districts, protestors blocked highways for some time, police said. Meanwhile, a leading film distributor issued a statement today saying that it would not distribute the film in the state.
"We wish to inform that M/s Yash Raj Jai Pictures Private Limited has not acquired the distribution rights of Padmaavat for Rajasthan. We have decided not to distribute the film in the state," the statement said.