Mobs Padmaavat

An Ahmedabad shopping mall is vandalized by people protesting the release of 'Padmaavat' Jan. 23. Protesters burned vehicles and pelted stones, in spite of announcements by cinema halls that they would not screen the controversial film. (IANS photo)

AHMEDABAD — Hundreds of people protesting the upcoming release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmaavat' went on rampage here Jan. 23 evening, burning vehicles and pelting stones even as cinema halls announced they would not screen the film despite Supreme Court orders.

Police said around 200 protesters targeted multiplexes in Ahmedabad’s upmarket SG Highway, pelted cinemas with stones and burned more than a dozen two-wheelers and other vehicles as well as. There were no reports of injuries.

The arson coincided with the visit of Shri Rajput Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi, who is spearheading protests against the movie across India. 

The violence caught police by surprise as most cinemas owners in Gujarat, including owners of multiplexes in Ahmedabad, had already declared they would not screen the controversial film.

Police said vehicles were targeted outside the Wide Angle multiplex, while more than seven two-wheelers were burned or damaged at the Acropolis Mall, which houses the PVR Cinema screens, where windowpanes and glass doors were also damaged.

Ahmedabad Police Commissioner A.K. Singh said many of the miscreants had been arrested while adequate police force had been deployed outside all cinemas.

The trouble began after more than 1,500 people claiming to be Sena activists gathered outside the Dev Arc Mall, which houses a movie theatre, to hold a candlelight march. 

The group later went to SG Highway, first reaching the Acropolis Mall, which houses the upmarket PVR cinema hall, and then moved on to other malls. Shouting slogans, the mob stopped traffic on the busy road.

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel exhorted people to boycott the movie, while also appealing to them to stay calm. 

Similar appeals were issued by Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja and senior Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, both Rajputs. 

"It appears that certain antisocial elements are trying to defame our community," Chudasama said.

Karni Sena leaders claimed they had nothing to do with the violence and urged the state to initiate action against the culprits. 

"I will resign if there is any link established with our organization," Raj Shekhavat, president of Gujarat Rajput Karni Sena, told the media.

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