`The Da Vinci Code' banned in State

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Special Correspondent

High-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy takes the decision

HYDERABAD: Taking a cue from Tamil Nadu and four other States that have prevented the screening of controversial film `The Da Vinci Code', the Andhra Pradesh Government too has decided to impose a ban on screening of the movie, much to the dismay of cinegoers.

After a high-level meeting at the Secretariat here on Thursday, Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy gave his consent for banning the State-wide release of the film on June 2. An order issued by the Home Department later said that the State Government was banning the film's release in English, Telugu or any other language throughout the State from Friday onwards.

The reason cited by the Government for its action was the protests lodged by the minority community, particularly by Christian organisations as also from others "including Muslims".

"After taking into consideration the reports and complaints from the minority community, particularly Christian community regarding the `The Da Vinci Code' and having come to the conclusion that exhibition of the film might hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims and Christians thus leading to law and order problems, the ban was promulgated", the order said.

Andhra Pradesh has now followed in the footsteps of Punjab, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Nagaland in banning the film which is based on the international best-seller authored by Dan Brown.

Earlier, the Chief Minister conferred with top officials, including the Director-General of Police Swaranjit Sen, Advocate-General C. V. Mohan Reddy, Special Chief Secretary Paul Bhuyan and Principal Secretary Jannath Hussain along with representatives of Muslim and Christian organisations on the issue.

Dr. Reddy, sources said, was initially reluctant to support the ban. He argued that the original novel had already sold more than 60.5 million copies throughout the world and no Christian country had preferred the ban. He, however, relented when the officials cautioned him about possible law and order problems if the film was screened.

Later in a press release, Mr. Paul Bhuyan justified the stand arguing that the minority organisations had pointed out that the film's story line attacked the very heart of the Holy Gospel destroying the divinity of Lord Jesus Christ.

It might lead to unrest among the semi-literate and illiterate rural folk following the faith, they had further warned.

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