Day ahead of Padmaavat release, arson, protests erupt in four states: 10 updates

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A day before “Padmaavat” release, Karni Sena and various other fringe groups that vowed to block the film in defiance of Supreme Court orders, escalated their protests that started last evening. As per reports, violence and protests erupted from parts of Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – the states that had originally banned the movie.

Police lathi-charged protesters in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, who damaged vehicles and forcibly shut down shops. Several vehicle owners were injured. Even the Delhi-Jaipur highway was blocked by protesters. The Karni Sena demanded social organisations across the country to make sure that the movie can’t be screened.

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Distributors in Rajasthan denied screening Padmaavat citing the protest led by Karni Sena and other fringe groups. Besides Delhi-Jaipur highway, traffic was hit on Delhi-Ajmer highway as protesters burnt tyres. A bus was stoned in Sikar. For the second time, the Chittor Fort was shut down in its centuries-old history after Karni Sena members tried to break in.

In Haryana’s Gurgaon, Wazirpur-Pataudi road was blocked by protesters and torched a bus in Sohna. The administration has banned protests within a 200-metre radius of movie halls till Sunday. While in Gurugram, Clubs and bars will be closed from 7 this evening till further orders. Several cinema hall owners have denied screening the film Padmaavat.

In Lucknow, protests were held outside a mall, claiming that they do not belong to any organisation and they won’t allow screening of the movie. They said that should the hall owners don’t agree to their “request” and stop screening the movie, they would “anything that is required”.

Meanwhile, Police in Mumbai arrested 30 Karni Sena workers as a preventive measure; 44 others were arrested in Gujarat capital Ahmedabad.

Lokendra Singh Kalvi, Karni Sena chief, claimed that the Rajput organisation won’t allow the release of the film Padmaavat “January 25 may come and go but we won’t let the film release, come what may,” he said.

Since Tuesday evening, protests against the film had turned increasingly violent with vandalism reported from near a number of multiplexes in Gujarat. Nearly, 50 people were arrested today in connection with the violence.

In Ahmedabad, the police had to open fire on Tuesday night after a mob torched nearly 30 two-wheelers and smashed shop windows. Wrecked cars and scooters were found encompassing the mall in piles this morning. In spite of the Gujarat government’s assurance for security before the film’s release, policemen were outnumbered by the mob.

The Supreme Court, yesterday, rejected a final attempt by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments to ban the movie Padmaavat. “It’s an order, better abide by it. You (states) can advise people not to watch the movie,” the judges said.

Protests erupted in some parts of Uttar Pradesh as well. Mobs went on a rampage in Muzaffarnagar. Delirious members of a fringe group barged into a mall in Kanpur commanding a complete ban on the film. They tore film posters, destroyed property and mistreated the mall staff, the police said.

The protesters claim that the film twists history and showcased Rani Padmini, the legendary queen of Chittor, in a poor light. The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapur, was cleared by the censor board after a number of edits and a change of title from Padmavati to Padmaavat.

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