Ahmedabad: At least 30 motorcycles were set on fire and several other vehicles parked outside three city malls were damaged on Tuesday by protesters opposing the release of the controversial film ‘Padmaavat’, police said.
Ahmedabad police commissioner A K Singh said several people have been arrested over the violence.
“Some anti-social elements today damaged vehicles outside three malls in the name of holding protests. It is a matter of investigation that who exactly were behind these acts. We have arrested several persons who were involved in the violence,” Singh said.
An official from city police control room said the mobs first torched 21 bikes parked in the premises of the Acropolis mall, which houses the PVR multiplex.
Later, the same mob reached Himalaya mall, which houses Carnival Cinemas and wrecked havoc by torching several bikes parked outside it, the official said.
Then the protesters torched around 10 bikes parked outside the Alpha One mall, which houses Cinepolis multiplex, the official added.
Meanwhile, Gujarat minister of state for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja promised action against those guilty of the violence.”The situation deteriorated after some of the protesters, who took part in the candle march against the movie at S G Highway, reached these malls,” Jadeja said.
“We will take strict action against the perpetrators. They first took part in the candle march at S G Highway and then reached these malls. I will seek report from city police as to how many policemen were deployed at these multiplexes,” Jadeja said.
According to an eyewitness, some persons wearing masks threw stones inside the mall and then set ablaze vehicles.
Officials of the Rashtriya Karni Sena and the Rajput Karni Sena, the organisations which are vehemently opposing the release of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed movie, denied any responsibility over the violence.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said on Tuesday that most theatre owners in the state had voluntarily decided to not screen controversial Bollywood film ‘Padmaavat’ as he emphasised that the state government was trying its best to maintain law and order.
The deputy chief minister’s comments came on a day when Karni Sena leader Lokendra Singh Kalvi issued a veiled threat suggesting there could be violence if the Bollywood flick was released despite widespread opposition.
“Most theatres have declined to screen the film, despite the green signal from the Supreme Court. They have taken the decision voluntarily. The government is trying its best to maintain law and order in the state,” Patel told reporters in Gandhinagar.
In Porbandar, Mahatama Gandhi’s birthplace, Kalvi said that when so many people from all walks of life were standing firm against the film, it will be a “huge insult for all of us” if it releases on January 25.
“I respect the ethos of non-violence propagated by Mahatma Gandhi. I too believe that non-violence is absolutely necessary. Therefore, do not compel us to take to the path of violence,” he said.
Surat police arrested 19 more persons, accused of holding violent protests against the film in the city two days ago, taking the number of arrests to 42. Surat saw violent protests on January 21.
We have learnt that those arrested in connection with the violence in Katargam were members of Karni Sena, Mahakal Sena and Bhavani Sena, said a police officer.
“Though we have assured police protection to cinema owners, they have informed us that none of them will screen the film on January 25. They also told us that the decision as to whether to screen the film on a later date will be taken afterwards,” he added.
The Supreme Court had on Thursday paved the way for the nationwide release of ‘Padmaavat’ on January 25 by lifting the ban on the screening of the film in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to modify its order, rejecting pleas filed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments.