GUJARAT POLICE are deploying additional forces at “sensitive areas” across the state after protesters opposed to the release of the movie Padmaavat burned three buses and damaged the window panes of at least six more buses in different parts of Mehsana district, DGP Pramod Kumar said on Sunday.
Following the violence, the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) cancelled 700 trips, including 400 to the Mehsana region in the north. “Since it was a Sunday, the plans of hundreds of marriage groups were affected, leaving them at the mercy of private operators,” said GSRTC secretary K D Desai.
Addressing a press conference DGP Kumar said, “We are committed to follow the Supreme Court order that has allowed the release of the film. We are deploying additional police forces at sensitive areas across the state to maintain law and order.”
Assuring protection to theatre-owners, Kumar said, “We are also deploying additional forces at sensitive places near cinema complexes. If theatre-owners approach police, they will be given security.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Raj Shekhwat, Gujarat chief of the Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena (RRKS), said, “The protest was supposed to follow a system but it has become violent. The common people are getting disturbed and I am appealing to the members of Karni Sena to not resort to violence and carry out acts like burning buses. This is property belonging to the people.”
Shekhwat said, “If the movie is released, we will be standing outside theatres, giving flowers to people and requesting them to not see the movie. The theatre association is supporting us and has told us that it will not be screening the movie.”
DGP Kumar said that in the last couple of days, 15 complaints have been received by the police and several people arrested. He said that six IGPs, a DIG, 14 DySPs, 41 inspectors, 238 sub-inspectors, 11,500 home guard jawans and two companies of RAF have been deployed to maintain law and order.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court paved the way for the nationwide release of “Padmaavat”, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, on January 25 by lifting the ban on the screening of the film in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
In Gujarat, the protesters also tried to block roads by burning tyres in some parts of Banaskantha, Mehsana, Surendranagar and Bhuj. On Sunday morning, they tried to block roads at Unava village near Gandhinagar and at Ambaji town in Banaskantha, police said.
Sporadic protests continued in Bhavnagar for the third day as protesters tried to block highways by burning tyres. There were also attempts to block the Rajkot-Bhavnagar and Bhavnagar-Dhandhuka state highways.