EVEN AS police presence was beefed up three days before the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat and the District Magistrate imposed Section 144 in Gurgaon, several Rajput- and Gujjar-dominated villages Tuesday held panchayats and decided to stage demonstrations on Wednesday against screening of the film.
Jitender Chauhan, national executive member of the Rajput Karni Sena, said, “Panchayats were held in several villages. Residents have decided to meet managers of cinema halls and peacefully request them not to screen the film.” Chauhan said protesters will gather at Subhash Chowk at 10 am, from where they will proceed to Sector 29 to offer flowers before the statue of Maharana Pratap. Following this, they will go to malls and multiplexes across the city to “peacefully offer flowers and appeal to managers of cinema houses to not show the movie”.
The decision comes in the backdrop of multiple incidents of violence across the country with the Rajput Karni Sena going on a nationwide protest against the movie, which they believe is an insult to their history. On Monday evening, unidentified men, armed with lathis and rods, had vandalised a bus near Narsinghpur. Police had said that the men initially tried to burn the vehicle’s tyres but instead broke the windows and windshield. A few minutes later, “15-16” unidentified men barged into Sohna road’s Raheja mall, where they proceeded to the lower ground floor and broke the windows of the Pizza Hut and Burger King outlets, before entering the reception of the adjoining Carnival Cinemas, where also they damaged property, including LED television sets.
As a safety measure, Gurgaon Commissioner of Police, on Tuesday, deployed “substantial police force” at public places across the city to maintain law and order. “We have deployed personnel at various public places, especially those that are vulnerable to demonstrations,” said Sandeep Khirwar, Commissioner of Police.
“Personnel have been deployed across the city, with the aim of ensuring that law and order is maintained. For this purpose, additional 400 personnel have also been deployed in Gurgaon from the police headquarters,” said Khirwar.
Meanwhile, District Magistrate Vinay Pratap Singh on Tuesday imposed Section 144 in Gurgaon between January 23-28. As per orders, “presence of persons carrying fire arms and other articles capable of causing injury, raising slogans and exhibiting placards within the radius of 200 metres” of cinema halls, is prohibited. The order also states that the decision has been taken in the wake of an intimation by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (HQ) “that Padmavat will be releasing on 25-01-2018 and there is likelihood of disturbance by anti-social elements”.