Gujarat tense before Padmaavat release, mobs vandalise shops, burn cars in Ahmedabad
Before the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's controversial film Padmaavat, Gujarat witnessed a spate of violence and protests.
Today, protesters vandalised a mall and adjacent shops, torched vehicles in Ahemdabad's Memnagar. "We had put up boards saying we won't screen the film still the mall was attacked by a horde of men," said Rakesh Mehta, manager of the mall.
Minister of Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja confirmed that 30 people have been detained following the incident.
INCIDENTS OF ARSON
Police said around 200 protesters went around multiplexes on the upmarket SG Highway in Ahmedabad and burnt down more than a dozen two-wheelers and other vehicles as well as pelted cinemas with stones. However, there were no reports of injuries.
The incidents of arson coincided with the visit of Shri Rajput Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi, who is spearheading the protests against the movie across the country.
The violence caught police by surprise since owners of most cinemas in Gujarat, including multiplexes in Ahmedabad, had already declared they would not screen the controversial film.
Police said some vehicles were targetted outside Wide Angle multiplex, while more than seven two-wheelers were burnt or damaged at Acropolis Mall which houses the PVR Cinema screens, where some windowpanes and glass doors were also damaged.
Ahmedabad Police Commissioner A.K. Singh said many miscreants had been arrested while adequate police force had been deployed outside all cinemas.
The trouble began after more than 1,500 persons, claiming to be Sena activists, gathered outside Dev Arc Mall that houses a movie theatre, in the evening to hold a candlelight march.
MOB RESORTS TO SLOGANEERING
The group later went to the SG Highway, first reaching Acropolis Mall which has upmarket PVR cinema hall, and then other malls. Shouting slogans, the mob halted traffic on the busy road, followed by aron.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel exhorted people to boycott the movie, while also appealing them to stay calm.
Similar appeals were issued by Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja and senior Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, both Rajputs.
"It appears that certain antisocial elements are trying to defame our community," Chudasama said.
Karni Sena leader claimed they had nothing to do with the violence and urged the state to initiate action against the culprits.
"I will resign if there is any link (of violence) established with our organisation," Raj Shekhavat, President of Gujarat Rajput Karni Sena, told mediapersons.
Several theaters faced the brunt of the protesters, who not only damaged the property but also held processions against the film.
On Saturday, the trailer of the film was screened at the Rajhans Cinema Hall in Ahmedabad's Nikol. After the screening, groups targeted the ticket booking office. Later, police filed a complaint of vandalism against unidentified persons.
SUPREME COURT'S NOD
Earlier today, the Supreme Court said that it quashed all pleas seeking a ban on the Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, which had banned the film, on Monday approached the Supreme Court to modify its earlier order.
While the Supreme Court had given its nod, members of Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which has been vehemently opposing the release of Padmaavat, has threatened to burn down theatres screening the film.
Anticipating attack, several theatre owners have enhanced security arrangements in the premises.
WITH INPUTS FROM IANS