Haryana ministers, who had been very vocal in opposing the screening of Padmaavat, remained silent Wednesday after a Gurgaon school bus with children was attacked by those protesting the release of the film.
Barring Health Minister Anil Vij, ministers declined to speak on the issue. Vij, who had earlier moved a state cabinet resolution and tweeted “Film Padmavati/ Padmavat banned in Haryana”, said the Supreme Court’s order was “supreme” and the government would provide security to cinemas screening the film.
Ahead of the film’s release Thursday, the government issued prohibitory orders around cinemas/multiplexes across Haryana and deployed additional forces.
On Monday, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, speaking to reporters after inaugurating two underpasses constructed on the Delhi-Jaipur highway in Gurgaon, said: “The Supreme Court’s order must be followed… well and good if some theatre owners do not want to screen the film, but those who want to screen it will be provided full security”.
His statement was reiterated by the state government in a press release the same evening. Others such as Industries and Commerce Minister Vipul Goel openly expressed opposition to the screening.
Even after the Supreme Court rejected to modify its order and reiterated that it was the duty of the states to maintain law and order, Vij said: “Patriots should not go to watch this movie… Still, whatever Supreme Court has ordered, it is a legal procedure and we accept it”.
But on Wednesday evening, after there was all-round condemnation of the attack on the school bus, Vij said: “Initially, our government banned the screening of this movie, but since the Supreme Court’s directions have come, which is supreme, the government will follow the orders and implement them. An alert has been sounded in the state. Whoever wants to screen or watch the movie are free to do so.”
Haryana DGP B S Sandhu said all steps were being taken for “smooth screening” of Padmaavat. He said he had also appealed to the Rajput community not to indulge in any violence. “Directions have been issued to all district police chiefs to take all necessary measures required for the smooth screening of the movie. Any disruption in law and order will not be tolerated,” he said.
The Opposition, meanwhile, slammed the state government, describing the attack on the school bus as another “major failure” of the party in power.
Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda told The Indian Express: “This is nothing but utter failure of the state government in maintaining law and order. This is a directionless government. Everybody is unsafe in the state. Children are not safe in schools, girls are not safe in homes. That’s why, when we met the Governor recently, we said that this government should resign on moral grounds.”
Ashok Arora, INLD state president, too condemned the attack on the school bus: “There is no place for violence in democracy. If anybody wants to protest, they should do it peacefully. Our party strongly condemn such incidents of violence.”
AICC communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said, “It is unacceptable, reprehensible and devastating as vandals attack a school bus and a Haryana roadways bus in Gurgaon, endangering the lives of innocent children and passengers.”