Haryana Police denied rumors of widespread violence in the state associated with the exhibition of the film Padmaavat and reassured cinema-goers of ‘full protection’.
The assurances come a day after malls and vehicles in Gurgaon, the commercial capital of Haryana, came under attack, allegedly from activists of Shri Rajput Karni Sena.
“I want to assure all cinema-goers and theater-owners on behalf of Haryana Police that we are giving full protection to all cinema halls showing the film,” Haryana Police chief BS Sandhu said.
“There are no reports, in the last 24 hours, of any unpleasant incident, attacks, or arson. Some peaceful protests are continuing.”
The Karni Sena has called for protests against the film, which it alleges does not do justice to the history of their medieval kings and heroines. In particular, the Sena is displeased with the portrayal of Padmaavati, a medieval queen who killed herself when her side lost a war with invading Muslim armies.
DGP Sandhu said Haryana Police was full prepared to handle the events and 54 companies of state reserve police have been kept on standby.
All theaters where the film is being exhibited have been given protection, he said. Haryana police had come under severe criticism in the past for failing to control mob violence, most recently at the time of the arrest of Dera Sachcha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
Sandhu said 33 cinema halls in 9 districts of the state are currently showing the film.
“There are no untoward incident inside or near the theaters. People are coming and watching it,” he said.
On Wednesday’s violence, Sandhu said 31 people have been arrested and more will be booked soon.
“Because of the sections imposed in this, the accused will find it difficult to get bail,” he said.
The largest number of arrests, 18, were carried out in relation to the burning of a Haryana Roadways bus 20 km outside Gurgaon.
“A school bus that was accompanying the Roadways bus was also hit with a stone,” he said.
Mobile phone footage showed very small children forced to seek shelter under the seats of the bus amid shattered glass.
Besides the above, five people were arrested in another vehicle-related incident and another 8 were taken into preventive custody, mostly in Gurgaoin.
He also assured all theater owners interested in showing the film that they will get full protection from Haryana Police.
“All the halls and malls that were showing the film were given sufficient police force for protection. It is because of that the film is being exhibited smoothly,” the DGP said.
“Any theater-owner who wants to exhibit the film will be given full protection. They are satisfied. We will take strict action against any violent protests and no one will be spared.”