Protesters linked to fringe Rajput outfits blocked roads and took out march across Bihar, including in Patna, in protest against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial film ‘Padmaavat’, which hit the theatres Thursday.
Fearing reprisal from the fringe groups, who oppose the movie alleging it distorts history, a number of theatre owners in Bihar have refrained from screening the period drama based on 16th-century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic “Padmavat”.
A cinema hall owner in Patna said “we have decided not to show Padmaavat to respect the ‘public sentiment’ against it” and also because of fear of damage to theatres.
Hundreds of Karni Sena members took out a march in Patna. “We took out a peaceful march from A N College, Boring Road, to Gandhi Maidan. Our people raised slogans in front of Mona cinema hall in the city as a mark of protest,” Karni Sena Bihar unit chief Dhirendra Singh said.
Authorities have stepped up security near cinema halls and taken precautionary measures in view of the protests.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said his government was not in favour of the release of the movie in the state until the filmmakers issued a clarification to end the controversy.
Expressing solidarity with protesters in other parts of the country, members owing allegiance to the Karni Sena blocked roads and took out march in Hajipur, Barh, Samastipur, Nawada, Sitamarhi, Sheohar and Ara against the film’s release.
Nearly 100 protesters blocked the Muzaffarpur-Patna national highway in Bhikhanpura area for nearly three hours. The blockade disrupted movement of vehicles to the state capital.
Traffic resumed on the national highway after the police intervened, said Senior Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarpur, Vivek Kumar.
On January 18, Karni Sena members had attacked a cinema hall in Muzaffarpur. Brandishing swords, they protested at the theatre and tore down posters of the film.
In Gaya today, around 500-600 Karni Sena activists protested in front of a multiplex. They took out a march in the city, burnt tyres and raised slogans against the film’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, police sources said in Gaya.
No incident of violence was reported from any part of the state so far.