EVEN AS BJP-led governments in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — three of the four states named in the petition filed by Padmaavat producers — said they would study the Supreme Court order before taking a decision, Rajput outfits on Thursday pushed for an “unofficial ban” and reiterated their threat that women would commit jauhar (self-immolation) in Chittorgarh if the film was released.
In Haryana, the fourth state, Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu said they would “honour the order” of the Supreme Court.
In Rajasthan, which issued an official ban on Wednesday, Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said: “We are… seeing that the Supreme Court hasn’t considered the ban as uchit (proper). We will read the order and then take the law department’s advice… If the law department and constitutional experts are able to find a way for us to proceed, we will try to do so while respecting the apex court. We will do what we have to do when it comes to law and order.”
“The Gujarat government will review the order and then decide its stand. Gujarat is a peaceful state and we will have to study the order to see if it will have any adverse impact,” said Gujarat Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh too said the government would make its stand clear after studying the order.
Pushing for an “unofficial ban”, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, founder patron of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) which was at the forefront of protests against the film, said that “despite the Supreme Court order, the state governments, citing law and order, should continue with the ban”.
“We are in the court of public. I believe the court of public is the biggest court,” he said. “The Supreme Court said the film should be screened, but providing security is your (state’s) jurisdiction… Earlier, (cinema hall) owners and distributors here (in Rajasthan) did not screen Jodhaa Akbar. Similarly, Fanaa was (unofficially) banned in Gujarat by Modiji,” he added.
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“On January 24, women of all communities have resolved to commit jauhar (self-immolation) in Chittorgarh,” he said, adding that the SRKS would give further details on its course of action in Mumbai on Friday.
Mahipal Singh Makrana, SRKS president in Rajasthan, claimed that 1,826 women had signed up for jauhar. But at a press conference at the Shri Rajput Sabha office in Jaipur, Rajput women said they would make Padmaavat director Sanjay Leela Bhansali commit jauhar.
“We will go for a double bench appeal, and then to the President, but will not allow the film to be released,” said Sukhdev Singh, national president of Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena (SRRKS), a splinter outfit of the SRKS.
Film distributors in Rajasthan said that despite the court’s order, Padmaavat was unlikely to be released in the state.
In Gujarat, the Karni Sena threatened to “burn down cinema halls showing the film”. “While we respect the Supreme Court, we are very unhappy with the decision. We will approach other benches for reviews. We will not let theatres screen the film, and will burn them down if needed. We will not hurt people, but will damage property,” warned Raj Shekhawat, president of the Gujarat Karni Sena.
Police also reported protests on the Barwala-Bagodara highway in Ahmedabad district.
“We will not screen the film till we get a directive from the state government. We are also demanding security as we cannot put the public, our staff and our property at stake,” said Manu Patel, president of the Gujarat Multiplex Association.
While Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who announced a “ban” on the film in November, did not comment on the Supreme Court’s order, State BJP chief Nandkumar Singh Chouhan said the film would remain “banned” till the government takes a call.
“The court should have kept public sentiments in mind before giving its order,’’ said Deepak Chouhan, general secretary of Bhopal-based Rajput Sena. The outfit has called a meeting on Saturday to decide its next step.
Haryana Police spokesperson and Inspector General of Police Mamta Singh said they had issued instructions to all district officers to provide adequate security to cinema halls. “There should be proper arrangements for those who want to screen it and those want to watch it,” said Singh.
Cinema hall owners in Haryana said they were willing to screen the film. “We will honour the order of the Supreme Court. If the distributor provides the film, then we will screen it,” said Avtar Singh Dholi, owner of Rohtak’s Shiela Cineplex.
“We will certainly screen the film. But if there is some dispute, we will stop it,” said Jatin Beniwal, manager of Hisar’s MG Cinemas.
Former Haryana BJP media coordinator and Rajput leader Suraj Pal Amu said they would continue to protest in a democratic manner. “We will file a review petition before the Supreme Court against the film’s release. We will request all our organisations not to watch the film and not to allow its screening,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group of about 30 people, who identified themselves as Karni Sena members, vandalised a cinema hall in Muzaffarpur in Bihar, which was scheduled to screen Padmaavat after its release. “We are studying video footage of the incident to identify the suspects,” said DSP Ashish Anand.