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The Padmavati drama grows more absurd and more dangerous each day. None of the protesters have seen the movie, so their outrage is anticipatory. But their threats are very real.

Let us remember that the Rajput Karni Sena, which started the protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie, is not merely organising rallies or staging sit-ins. In January 2017, when the protests were nowhere as massive as they have now become – with new worthies adding their weight to it every day – the group had ruined the movie’s sets and slapped Bhansali in clear violation of the law. 

Since then, the threats have been rising up both in nature and stature. From protesters not allowing the movie to be screened to them threatening to burn theatres, we are now hearing of bounties to behead Bhansali and cut off Deepika Padukone’s nose. From random caste collectives, we now have chief ministers and politicians picking sides in the row.

Hurting someone’s pride is debatable, subjective. The law is a clearly laid down, codified. Yet, so far, not once has the Centre made a statement saying the rule of law will be upheld and those trying to instigate violence will be brought to book. 

This is not the first time in India that a movie has “outraged sentiments”. A mechanism is in place to address such issues. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) exists for the express purpose of reviewing movies and deciding if they are fit for wider release.

The logical response to the public outrage should have been a government crackdown on these ugly elements and letting the CBFC do its job. But what has happened so far is that the unreasonable demands of one group have been given legitimacy by members of the ruling BJP, and some of the Congress.

In fact, the more outrageous of threats have come from the ruling party – Haryana BJP leader Suraj Pal Amu offered to double the Rs 5 crore “bounty” an insignificant group had announced on the heads of Padukone and Bhansali, while Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath has stated that the two are “equally responsible” for the protests against them. Equating death threats with a movie, Adityanath said: “I feel that if those giving death threats are guilty, then Bhansali is also guilty of hurting people’s sentiments.” The ruling government is doing nothing but justifying the death threats given by all the bullies.

Those protesting against Padmavati have not seen the movie. The cry of “threatened Rajput honour”, which gathered momentum very quickly and spread beyond Rajasthan’s borders, is based on nothing more than whipped up hysteria.

The Karni Sena had originally taken offence to the alleged presence of a dream sequence that showed intimate moments between Padmini and Alauddin Khilji. It was only later that a queen shown dancing was criticised too. Bhansali has denied the existence of such a scene repeatedly.

How did the Karni Sena come to know the “dream sequence” existed? As more and more voices joined in supporting the Karni Sena, what exactly did they base their support on? Padmavati has become more than about freedom of expression, the issue is now about the life and liberty of those on the wrong side of the ruling party’s politics. The confidence with which insignificant groups are issuing death threats, and are not just getting away, but also being legitimised, by the BJP, is frightening.

While the question of whether Padmavati hurts Rajput pride will be settled only after the movie is released, the manner in which the controversy has been handled as already insulted India’s democracy.

Speaking on this topic is necessary and the silence of the government is not making sense. The Prime Minister and The Minister of Information and Broadcasting has to address the nation immediately because this is an emergency, not really but yes if no action has been taken against these hooligans now, there will be a lot of problem. The current situation is that ,although we have a government at the centre the country is being bullied by a ridiculous so called Rajput Organisation.

 Help me reach this petition to The Prime Minister and Ministry of Information and Broadcast, so that this movie is released.

 (Sources: Daily O)

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