Six persons including a woman have been taken into custody on Monday for not standing when the national anthem was played before the screening of a film at the ongoing International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram. They were later taken to a city police station and charged for contempt of the Supreme Court directive. According to some reports, five others were also arrested soon after the show got over. The reports suggest that police personnel were sitting among the audience.
The police action came after Bharatiya Yuva Morcha activists complained to the Director General of Police (DGP), Loknath Behra. The youth wing of the BJP had complained that media reports indicated that delegates at the IFFK were not standing when the national anthem was being played ahead of all screenings. The DGP had instructed the Assistant Commissioner of Police to inquire into the complaint.
WATCH VIDEO | Kerala: Six Arrested For Not Standing During National Anthem
The DGP had also asked the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy (KSCA) for an explanation. Delegates will have to comply with the Supreme Court order that due respect should be shown when the national anthem is played, KSCA Secretary Mahesh B said in a statement. The reservation of those delegates who do not enter the theatre five minutes before the national anthem is played, will be cancelled, the statement said. The KSCA had earlier said it was seeking legal opinion on whether to seek an exemption from playing the national anthem before the screening of films at IFFK. The film fiesta which began on Friday will have 490 screenings in 13 theatres spread across the state capital. There has been a huge turnout so far for most of the film screenings.
On Friday, a film society based in Kerala approached the Supreme Court seeking exemption from its previous order that made it mandatory for everyone to stand up during the national anthem before a film screening. They cited the sheer number of films being screened at the IFFK and said that it would cause inconvenience to the 1500 odd foreign guests attending the fest. The apex court, however, did not provide any relief. It is also unclear whether foreigners were among the six delegates booked by police.
Hearing the plea, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy observed that: “Only because certain foreigners are here and they may have some problems, should we recall our order? Why should we recall our orders only to oblige foreigners? If there are 40 movies running in different shows, you will have to, well, stand 40 times.”
On Sunday, three were allegedly roughed up for refusing to stand for the national anthem at a theatre in Chennai. Police registered a case against seven people including a woman.