Mumbai, Shiv Sena activists Tuesday went on a rampage and attacked several cinema halls that will screen Shah Rukh Khan’s “My Name Is Khan” despite the Mumbai Police assuring full security at the 63 cinemas and multiplexes that will showcase the movie.
Sena mobs attacked and damaged the booking windows of the Mehul Theatre in Mulund and staged noisy protests outside Shreyas Theatre in Ghatkopar, both in the suburbs, officials said.
Similarly, activists shouted slogans against Shah Rukh and “My Name Is Khan” outside the Huma Cinema in Kanjurmarg and the R-City Mall even as police promised tough measures to prevent any untoward incident during the release of the film directed by Karan Johar and starring Kajol with Shah Rukh Khan.
“My Name Is Khan” has been under the Shiv Sena scanner ever since superstar Shah Rukh made comments in favour of the inclusion of Pakistani cricketers in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Shah Rukh is co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders team. Not willing to settle for anything less than an apology from the star for his pro-Pakistani cricketers comments, the Sena also called him “a traitor”.
During the ongoing protests, posters and banners of the movie were torn or defaced and effigies of ‘King Khan’ were burnt in various parts of the state. Sena members also tore the screen in Metro Cinema in south Mumbai late Tuesday evening.
Acting swiftly, police arrested at least 40 Sena activists and booked them for unlawful assembly and rioting.
Earlier in the afternoon, director Karan Johar had called on Police Commissioner D. Shivanandhan and returned satisfied by the police security promised for the movie.
Joint Police Commissioner (Law and Order) Himanshu Roy said anybody attempting to disrupt the film in any manner would be dealt with “very firmly”.
“We shall also frisk and search suspicious persons coming to view the movie to prevent any untoward incidents inside the cinema auditorium,” Roy told a packed news conference.
“We came here with the exhibitors to get a personal assurance from the police. We have an assurance from him that we shall be provided full protection at all places and locations where the movie shall be exhibited. There is no issue and it’s all fine,” Johar told reporters after the meeting.
Johar added that advance bookings for “My Name Is Khan” have already opened all over ahead of the scheduled release Friday.
The Sena violence came only days after the party unofficially dissociated itself from banning the movie release in the city.
However, on Tuesday, senior party leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi reiterated in Nagpur that Shah Rukh must apologise for his remarks advocating the cause of Pakistani cricketers participating in the Indian Premier League.
His much awaited film is slated for a global release this Friday, including at 63 cinemas and multiplexes in Mumbai and another 250 across the state.
Both Chief minister Ashok Chavan and state Home Minister R.R. Patil have assured full protection for the smooth screening of the movie across Maharashtra.
Chavan, in fact, Tuesday declared that he would personally go and watch the movie along with his family.
As an extra precaution, the weekly off for most policemen has been cancelled to ensure that enough personnel are available for deployment on Friday.