Violence, arson in MP, Haryana ahead of 'Padmaavat' release


Violence and arson erupted in parts of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Haryana ahead of Thursday's release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's controversial period drama "Padmaavat" as the Karni Sena, an extremist Rajput group, on Monday warned of "enormous outburst of people" if the movie was released.

Protests and acts of vandalism were reported from various parts of Madhya Pradesh, including in Indore, Ujjain and Jhabua on Monday.

Activists of Karni Sena, which is at the forefront of the anti-"Padmaavat" protests because they claim the movie shows medieval Rajput queen Padmavati in not so honorable light -- held demonstration in Ujjain to demand state-wide ban on the movie.

They also staged blockades by burning tyres on roads connecting Ujjain to Nagda, Dewas to Maksi and Agar to Kota.

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The highway to Ujjain was blocked for hours, while police said that Karni Sena activists tried to hijack a truck and set it on fire in Indore.

Deputy Inspector General Hari Narayan Chari Mishra told IANS that protesters were forcibly removed from many places.

In Bhopal, members of the Rajput group, held demonstration outside Jyoti Talkies and warned of consequences if the film was released.

Meanwhile, a group of women, representing the Rajput community, left Ratlam for Rajasthan's Chittorgarh where they will stage a protest.

Violence was also reported from Haryana where some miscreants vandalised Kessel Mall in Kurukshetra late on Sunday.

Abhishek Garg, Superintendent of Police, Kutukshetra, said that a case was registered against "unknown persons for rioting" after a group of people vandalised the mall.

He said it was not known if they were protesting against the movie but "there is a possibility" that the vandalism was against the release of film.

In Rajasthan, Rajput Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi on Monday said he would not allow the movie be released "at any cost" and warned that if cinema halls went ahead with the release it would lead to an "enormous outburst of people".

He also urged other state governments that want a ban to come together to approach the Supreme Court.

"We will not allow the film to be released at any cost. The Supreme Court has directed the state governments to ensure release of the film, but not to us," Kalvai told IANS.

"Padmaavat" is scheduled to release nationwide on Thursday. The Karni Sena and some other groups claim the film distorts history.

Meanwhile, the Karni Sena in its reply to Bhansali's invite to watch "Padmaavat" asked the noted producer if the "objectionable scenes" of the film will be cut on its suggestions.

Sources confirmed that the Karni Sena, in the letter, also wanted to know if they ask for postponing of the film's scheduled January 25 release, would Bhansali agree.

The Rajput group also asked why the film was not shown to all nine veterans who were earlier chosen by the CBFC and why it was shown only to three of them. Despite sending them an invite and being shown the film, why were their suggestions ignored and not paid heed to, the letter asks.

The Haryana and Madhya Pradesh governments have decided not to allow the screening of the film in the states even as the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a plea by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan seeking to block the release of the controversial movie.

The counsels for the two states on Monday mentioned the matter for urgent hearing seeking modification/clarification of the court's January 18 order that stayed notification/orders of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana government banning the release of the film in the three states.

The court by the said order had directed that no state government would issue order that might come in the way of the release of Bhansali directorial "Padmaavat" on January 25.

An advocate of the Karni Sena will also be represented in the top court on Tuesday.