Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat appeared to have put the angry coalition of Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and the Congress, which fought the BJP as a united front during the Assembly elections, on the same side of the BJP, in their view of the film as “hurting sentiments of a “particular community”. While the Congress remained guarded in its support of the ban on Padmaavat, Hardik and Alpesh have demanded a ban on the film as has the BJP government in Gujarat.
As incidents of arson and chakka jam were reported from Surendranagar and the Ahmedabad-Rajkot highway, and attempts to burn a bus were made in Banaskantha on Ahmedabad-Dholka highway, Central forces were deployed in the districts of Mehsana, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Banaskantha.
A day after police opened fire to disperse violent mobs armed with sticks, stones and bottles filled with inflammable substances, burning down at least 60 vehicles outside four malls in Ahmedabad that housed multiplexes, the Multiplex Association of India declared in a press release on Wednesday that Padmaavat would not be screened in Gujarat. The police arrested 154 persons and lodged four FIRs in police stations in Ahmedabad charging the Karni Sena for “conspiracy” of “attempt to culpable homicide” under sections 120 B and 308 of the IPC respectively, based on CCTV footage.
At Gandhinagar, ministers, while criticising the film for “distorting history”, held talks with various Rajput leaders and said that Gujarat would not close down in solidarity with the “Bharat Bandh” called by the Karni Sena on Thursday, when the film is slated to release.
Senior cabinet ministers met representatives of at least seven Rajput organisations in Gandhinagar and convinced them from participating in the Bharat Bandh called to protest the release of Padmaavat, which was anyway not going to happen.
Deepak Asher, president of the Multiplex Association of India said in a statement: “The safety of our patrons and visitors to multiplexes is of paramount importance and since under the present circumstances it was apprehended that there could be a potential risk to such safety, all the members of the association have individually considered it prudent to not screen the movie at present”. Asher said that the association would closely watch the ground situation and would “review the decision if so warranted in the best interests of their patrons”.
Gujarat minister for law and justice Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and minister of state for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, both Kshatriya-Rajput leaders, chaired the meeting with leaders of at least 15 Rajput groups. Chudasama told mediapersons, “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.”