The Supreme Court on January 23, ordered the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh government to screen the film “Padmaavat”. This decision came after the two state governments had petitioned the apex court for a review on its earlier order on January 18, where it had paved the way for the all-India release of the film. The SC order of January 18 lifted the earlier ban which had been imposed on the film by the state governments of Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
While incidents of violence had already been reported from different parts of India before the SC’s decision on January 23, the intensity of it was felt from the night of January 23 onwards when riotous mobs went on a rampage on the streets of Ahmedabad.
According to news reports, three malls and a standalone theatre complex came under attack in Ahmedabad. This happened even after the owners had declared that the film would not be screened at the respective theatres. It wasn’t just the malls which came under attack, over 150 vehicles, including both two-wheelers and four-wheelers, were damaged, causing huge loss of property. Charred remains of many two-wheelers can be seen in the video. According to a news report, an eyewitness account said that the mob consisted of around 2,000 people.
Such was the impact of the hooliganism that on Wednesday, the Gujarat Multiplex Owners Association announced that not a single theatre in Gujarat will screen “Padmaavat”.
Even school children in Gurgaon, Haryana were not spared. On Wednesday afternoon, January 24, a school bus carrying children was attacked. In the video one can see broken glasses on the seats, shattered window panes and students along with teachers and other assistant workers crouching with fear to avoid getting hit by stones.
Section 144 had earlier been imposed in Gurgaon district between January 23-28. However, even the district magistrate’s word couldn’t guarantee safety of the school children.
The Haryana government had also banned the film. However, after the Supreme Court verdict on January 18, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had said, “It’s good if some theatre owners do not want to screen the film, but those who want to, they will be provided full security.”
The Delhi-Jaipur highway was blocked for a while on Wednesday, January 24. Chants of ‘Sanjay Leela Bhansali murdabad‘ can be heard in the video.
Rajasthan was one of the six states to have banned ‘Padmaavat’ but the Delhi government had not taken such a decision. The Multiplex Association of India had said that its members would not screen the movie in Rajasthan, along with the states of Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The association consists of approximately 75% of the multiplex owners in India.
While these were amongst the most reported incidents of violence regarding ‘Padmaavat’, incidents of violence have been reported in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir as well. We can only hope things don’t escalate as millions will be flocking to the theatres to enjoy a movie they’ve been waiting for.