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Congress questions Irani’s silence on ‘Padmaavat’ row

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday described attempts to block the screening of ‘Padmaavat’ as “reprehensible” and questioned the silence of Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani on this.

“Vandalism to stop release of ‘Padmaavat’ is despicable, reprehensible and utterly nauseating,” tweeted Congress leader Manish Tewari.

The former information and broadcasting minister also questioned why the violence was happening only in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states.

He said: “Question why is it happening primarily in BJP-ruled states after even Supreme Court has green signalled the film? Is something beyond ‘Padmaavat’ at play? Why is the I&B Minister not standing up to enforce CBFC clearance?”

Tewari’s remarks came in the wake of the violence that erupted in Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat over the release of ‘Padmaavat’.

Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Thursday said that on the day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited the world to invest in India, Ahmedabad was hit by mob violence over the Hindi movie.

“When Prime Minister invited world business to invest in India, Ahmedabad was hit by mob violence,” Chidambaram said in a series of tweets.

He slammed the government over the violence that erupted in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on Tuesday night where malls and theatres were targeted by opponents of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie.

On the same day, the police in Uttar Pradesh registered six cases against young couples after seeing them in public places, the Congress leader said.

The Shree Rajput Karni Sena on Thursday denied any role in stone pelting on a school bus in Gurugram in Haryana over the screening of ‘Padmaavat’.

Karni Sena statement

Speaking to IANS, Vijendra Singh, Karni Sena spokesperson, said: “Rajputs can never even think of attacking a school bus. This is a plot being created by politicians, who wish to weaken our peaceful protest.”

“We have a history of leading from the front. We have never run away …,” he said, adding those who pelted stones were not known to anyone “and hence Karni Sena was being blamed”.

“No one saw who attacked the bus and yet we were blamed. Is there any logic in this immediate judgement?” Singh asked.

“Since the start of the protest, we have been calling for a peaceful movement. We have called for a peaceful janta curfew for today (Thursday) as well.

“We extend our gratitude to cinema hall owners who read our sentiments and didn’t screen the movie,” he added.

“Rajputs can never engage in violence with the innocent. They can never throw stones. We strongly deny our role in any such episode.”

He also questioned the role of the electronic media, and said, “had the print media not been there, the electronic media might have killed the base of the fourth pillar of democracy by showing anything without verification.”

Tight security

The Mumbai Police are maintaining a strict vigil outside theatres in the wake of protests against ‘Padmaavat’ which was set to hit the screens on Thursday.

The city police on Wednesday took more than 100 supporters of the Karni Sena into preventive custody as they gathered to hold protests against the film at various places, an official said.

As the Republic Day preparations are also going on in the country’s financial capital, the police have already issued a general alert and security personnel are on their toes to avoid any untoward incident, he said.

The police force is geared up to take action against those who try to create nuisance and take law into their hands while protesting against the release of ‘Padmaavat’, he said.

The official said besides providing security cover outside theatres, some police personnel may also be deployed inside cinema halls, wherever required, to prevent any untoward incident.

The makers of the film had recently approached the Mumbai Police requesting measures to ensure smooth release of the movie.

The police also tightened security at the residences of Bhansali and the film’s lead actor, Deepika Padukone, an official said.

The Delhi Police on Thursday said adequate arrangements are in place to maintain law and order as ‘Padmaavat’ released.

The capital has turned into a fortress ahead of the Republic Day with special commandos of Delhi Police and paramilitary forces deployed across the city, mainly in the VIP areas of central Delhi.

Police said forces have been deployed at theatres and multiplexes screening the movie, and they were on high alert as anti-‘Padmaavat’ violence was reported from adjoining Gurugram.

Special Commissioner of Police Dependra Pathak told IANS: “In view of the screening of ‘Padmaavat’ in the capital, we have made adequate and proper arrangements.

“We are continuously in touch with various big and small cineplex managements.

“Local intelligence, district DCPs, police station and beat officers are active in their respective areas. They have been directed to take swift action to tackle any untoward incident for maintaining law and order.

“We have proper security in the periphery of the national capital and additional force has been kept in readiness. We are urging groups not to indulge in any act which could violate the law and order situation.”

“Delhi Police is ready to handle any situation. The screenings of ‘Padmaavat’ is running peacefully in multiplexes. The city malls have been asked to tighten its inner security as some malls having multiplexes like Select City Walk in Saket,” Pathak said.

“We have appealed to Karni Sena supporters and other fringe groups to follow the apex court order and Delhi Police’s directions to maintain law and order and do not indulge any violent act which can harm peace.

“We will take strict legal action if someone found violating these directives,” the officer said.

However, some prominent schools were reported closed in Gurugram, Faridabad and Noida, while their branches were kept open in Delhi, while all Delhi schools are open, Pathak added.

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