A woman and her elderly mother were verbally abused while a man was roughed up allegedly for not standing up for the National Anthem at Palazzo Cinemas in Vadapalani, one of the venues of the Chennai International Film Festival, eyewitnesses have alleged. The woman Sreela M, a social worker, was part of a group booked on a similar complaint in December.
According to an eyewitness, who was also a delegate of the film fest, the three were not standing when the National Anthem was played before the film. “Someone sitting behind questioned them first and a dozen others joined in. When they started defending themselves, one of them was manhandled. Those who tried to stop the mob were roughed up too. One of the persons who led the mob went out to call the police, while others said they won’t allow the screening till police come and take them into custody,” the eyewitness added.
Almost 30 minutes after the incident, an inspector reached the theatre and took the two women and the man into custody. Organisers claimed they had demanded the arrest of those who assaulted them too. “But police did not listen. One of the women taken in custody was aged around 60,” said an organiser.
Sreela said she and her mother Subhasree were threatened, while Bijaan, a delegate from Kerala, was roughed up and dragged by the mob inside the theatre. A senior police officer said the three have been booked under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, and let off on bail.