The Uttar Pradesh government has written to the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry, expressing the apprehension that the release of Bollywood film Padmavati on December 1 could lead to serious “law and order problems” in the State.
The Uttar Pradesh Home Department has appealed to the I&B Ministry to apprise the Central Board of Film Certification of the “public sentiments” against the alleged distortion of “facts” in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film.
The State has requested the Censor Board to decide on the certification of the film based on public sentiments, and considering the threats of disruption and violence by various groups.
In the letter, the State government has said that there is “public anger” against the “distorted manner” in which the “storyline” and “historical facts” are presented in the film. The screening of the film could lead to an “adverse impact” on peace, a government spokesperson said.
The government has submitted that its resources to maintain law and order are stretched due to the ongoing municipal elections and the Barawafat festival, on December 2, when Muslim groups actively participate in taking out processions.
Voting for the local polls is scheduled in three phases, on November 22, 26 and 29, followed by the results on December 1.
“In such an environment, if this film is screened in its trailer launch, it could lead to widespread disorder and problems could arise. The release of the film on December 1 is not in the interest of peace and order,” the U.P. Home Department, which functions under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has said.
The State government has informed the IB Ministry that some groups have asked cinemas not to screen the movie, and demanded that “distorted scenes” of Rani Padmavati be erased. They had threatened to indulge in vandalism and arson if the film was screened, the State government said.
Meanwhile, the Karni Sena, a self-proclaimed Rajput outfit leading the protest against the film, has vowed not to allow its screening.
Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi said the U.P. Home Ministry's letter was the “impact” of the outfit’s campaign against the Bollywood film, which “depicted Padmavati in a dishonourable manner.” Mr. Kalvi said the government would have to be prepared to face the wrath of the Kshatriya youth if the film was allowed to be screened.
“ Ahimsa bahut zaroori hai, Hinsa toh majboori hai. Jauhar ki jwala hai, bahut kuch jalega. Rok sako toh is Padmavati ko rok lo ,(non-violence is of utmost importance but violence is the last resort. A lot will burn in this fire of Jauhar. Stop this Padmavati if you can ),” he said in a press conference here.
Director-General of Police Sulkhan Singh has issued a circular to district police chiefs instructing them to take all possible measures to prevent vandalism and violence. Officers have been asked to keep anti-riot equipment ready at all cinema halls, malls and multiplexes in the State, a police spokesperson said.
Explaining the letter sent to the I&B Ministry, Mr. Adityanath said while it was not for him to decide on the certification of the film, he would “stop every act that can create a threat to law and order” in the State.
He said the government’s priority was to ensure free and fair municipal elections. For that to happen, it was necessary for the police to be focused on the task at hand rather than be distracted by law and order problems created by the release of the film.
Letter to Rajnath
The Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) has written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking the smooth release of Padmavati . In the letter, film-maker and convenor of IFTDA Ashoke Pandit said as agitators had threatened to raze the cinema halls to the ground, adequate protection must be provided to the Padmavati team.The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has said it will take a stand on the controversial film only after watching it.
In Kota, a senior functionary of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena threatened actor Deepika Padukone with physical harm if she incited public sentiments. Referring to the nose chopping of ‘Surpnakha’ in Ramayana , Karni Sena leader Mahipal Singh Makrana said while the Kshatriyas respected women, the Rajputs would not lag behind if the film was not banned and Ms. Padukone did not stop inciting sentiments with her provocative language. Ms. Padukone had reportedly said that nothing could stop the release of the film and that India had regressed as a nation. The SRKS has called for a country-wide bandh on December 1.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil said on Thursday that the government was doing a security assessment of Ms. Padukone. It would provide security to theatres, if needed. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali had already been provided security, he said.
Ajmer Dargah Deewan Zainul Abedin Ali Khan joined the chorus of voices against the film and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban it as it hurt religious sentiments. Comparing Mr. Bhansali with Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen and Tareq Fatah, the spiritual leader said Muslims should oppose the film.
(With inputs from PTI)