Ahmedabad, Feb 13 (Calcutta Tube) The protests planned by right wing activists against the release of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘My name is Khan’ petered out in Gujarat by Friday evening and the film was being screened across the state.
Apprehensive exhibitors decided to suspend the morning show of the film in Ahmedabad after threats. In Vadodara and Surat, however, the film ran as per schedule to packed houses.
The regional Mahagujarat Janata Party (MJP) and the Bajrang Dal had announced they would protest and even prevent the release of the film in the state. Subsequently the local unit of the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also joined the agitation, pulling down banners and tearing posters of the film here.
Bajrang Dal activists tore down posters of the movie at City Gold cinema hall here. Ten of them were arrested and booked for the violence, with the administration sending a clear message that miscreants would be dealt with firmly.
There were also reports of the film’s posters being torn down in cinema halls in Palanpur, Deesa, Jamnagar and Rajkot, while in Vapi, an effigy of Shah Rukh was burnt outside the Cinepark multiplex by Shiv Sena activists. In Rajkot, a Pakistani flag was burnt outside the Crystal Mall.
However, the protests soon petered out after police moved into the scene following directions from the government. Police personnel were deployed in cinema halls across Gujarat to prevent any untoward incidents.
Minister of State for Home Amit Shah is reported to have himself called up multiplex owners and assured them of security, prompting them to go ahead with the film. Regular screening started in the multiplexes here from the noon shows.
Bajrang Dal’s Ranchod Bharwad, who Thursday had asserted his organisation would prevent the release of the film countrywide, was missing from the scene Friday. When contacted, he said that he was out of town, while VHP secretary Ashwin Patel said that he was busy arranging bail for the arrested VHP activists.
Neeraj Ahuja, general manager of Wide Angle multiplex in Ahmedabad, said screening of ‘My Name Is Khan’ had begun past noon at all theatres in the city.
‘We have been assured all help and protection by the administration, which has adopted a very positive approach,’ he said.
Right wing Shiv Sena was opposing the film’s release after Shah Rukh refused to apologise for saying that Pakistani cricketers should have been included in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches.