A day after incidents of arson in several multiplexes of Ahmedabad caught the Gujarat government by surprise, senior cabinet ministers met representatives of at least seven Rajput organisations in Gandhinagar and convinced them to refrain from participating in the “Bharat bandh” called to protest the release of the Bollywood film “Padmaavat” on Thursday.
The meeting held with 15-odd leaders was chaired by minister for law and justice Bhupendrasinh Chudasma and minister of state for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja. Other leaders from the BJP like MoS Agriculture, Jaydrathasinh Parmar and Balwantsinh Rajput were also present in the 20-minute long meeting held at the circuit house in Gandhinagar.
“Taking serious note of the violence that happened in Ahmedabad yesterday, we have summoned all the leaders of the Rajput community here which include the Akhil Gujarat Yuva Sangh, Karni Sena, Mahakaal Sena, Rajput Vidya Sabha, Gujarat Kshatriya Sabha, Surya Sena and Rashtriya Karni Sena. All these leaders have unanimously agreed not to participate in the bandh tomorrow,” said Bhupendrasinh Chudasma while addressing media persons along with the leaders of the Rajput community after the meeting concluded.
“In our principled fight which is not just the Kshatriya community but for the entire Hindu community, there is no place for arson or violence. We all condemn the things that anti-social elements did yesterday,” said the minister referring to the violence on Tuesday evening where a mob ran amok damaging and setting fire to public and private property in and around five multiplexes in Ahmedabad city.
“If a historical event or character is wrongly or crudely depicted then it will not be tolerated. Earlier, some multiplexes had decided not to showcase this film and today those remaining have also decided to do so. When those showing the film have taken a stance, then the issue does not stand in Gujarat anymore,” said Chudasma narrating how the state government “stood with the feelings of the people” and had brought out two notifications banning the release of the film in respect of the feelings of “Kshatriya and Hindu samaj.”
“Our entire team and the state government thanks the theatre owners. The government and the leaders believe that peace should be maintained in the state and the public property should not be damaged. To ensure that such incidents do not reoccur, we also appeal to the citizens to maintain peace,” the minister said adding that all educational establishments, businesses and shops and markets will remain open in Gujarat on Thursday.
Speaking on the issue, Raj Shekhawat, state head of Rashtriya Karni Sena said, “The main motive of our protest was the release of the film in Gujarat. When the movie is not going to be released in the state, then there should not be any protest on this issue. Rashtriya Karni Sena will not be taking part in tomorrow’s bandh. We would also thank the theatre owners and the state government for understanding our feelings.”
When quizzed about the violence and arson in Ahmedabad after Rajput organisations held a candle-march, Shekhawat said, “There is not a single karni sanik in the FIRs that have been lodged… We were just holding a candle march. We do not know when a second group came from behind (and began the incidents of violence and arson). The truth is that there is some conspiracy that wants to defame the protests by Rajput and disturb the peace…. When the violence broke out, the members of the Rajput community tried to stop those involved in violence, but the mob does not have any mind.”
Karansinh Chavda, head of Gujarat Kshatriya Sabha said, “About 300-400 people were present in the candle march that was organised by Rajput Vidya Sabha yesterday. After the march ended, a group that we also did not recognise joined in. We condemn the way in which they attacked the malls and theatres. Rajput Samaj can be involved in such violence.”
“We have also requested the senior ministers in the meeting that some of our innocent youths involved in the candle march were detained by the police. These youths should also get justice because we strongly believe that they were not part of the violence,” Chavda added.