With just a day to go for the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, violent protests have erupted across northern states in the country. These protests are largely orchestrated by fringe group Karni Sena who were adamant on a ban on the magnum opus. The film which is based on 13th century battle between Maharaja Ratan Singh of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi has been under attack since its inception.
Karni Sena’s chief, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, warned that ‘janta curfew’ will be imposed on theaters screening the film and asserted to point the blame on the director. A Haryana Roadways bus was set ablaze allegedly by the members of the fringe group near Bhondsi village in Gurugram. Although no one was hurt, a video has emerged where the protesters were seen throwing stones at a school bus, smashing its windows. A senior police officer, Vinay Pratap Singh told PTI, "We have already imposed (prohibitory orders under) Section 144 of the CrPC in the city but not directed pubs and bars to shut. All pubs and bars will remain open. The police are undertaking adequate patrolling."
Members of the Karni Sena also staged demonstrations in Indore and other parts of Madhya Pradesh blocking the national highway. Nearly 200 protesters blocked NH-3 linking Agra and Mumbai near Pigdambar crossing in Kishanganj area in Indore district. According to the reports around 50 Karni Sena activists armed with sticks burnt an effigy of Bhansali on Indore-Depalpur road. Nonetheless, the situation has been brought under control after a stern warning issued to the protesters. Agitations against the movie were also carried out in Sagar, Guna, Bhopal, Ratlam and other towns in Madhya Pradesh.
About 50 agitators were detained in Mumbai for protesting against the film. The group blocked the roads, burned buses and toll booths and even set car tyres ablaze. "The police took into preventive custody over 100 supporters of the Karni Sena to avoid any possible protests against the film that may create law and order problems," police spokesperson told PTI. "Adequate security has also been provided to the makers and actors of the film," he added. In Nashik, around 20 protesters who threatened to drown themselves in the Gangapur dam were detained.
Gujarat saw violent protests in the past few days, with malls being vandalized and vehicles being torched in Ahmedabad and other cities. The protesters allegedly attacked shops in malls, set ablaze about 50 motorbikes and damaged more than 150 cars. Gujarat Home Minister, Pradipsinh Jadeja said that 10 people were arrested yesterday and will be dealt with strictly.
According to the reports, names of more than 500 suspects for rioting and unlawful assembly had been registered across Gujarat. At least 100 suspects had been detained and could face charges over the riots. Their accounts, and CCTV footage from different areas, is being verified. Some of them may be arrested later.
To take preventive steps, Chittorgarh Fort was shut down for the second time in the last few days after women from the Rajput community threatens to commit suicide at the fort. The Karni Sena chief has also said that they will not allow CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi to attend Jaipur Literature Festival this year because he certified the film.R
eviews of the film are already out after a secretive media screening on Tuesday. Despite the mixed reviews, the one thing that stand out as common in all the reviews is that the film glorifies the Rajput courage and valour.