Maharashtra govt cracks down on Sena

With assurances from the government, theatres reopened advance booking for `MNIK`.

Updated: Feb 11, 2010, 09:32 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: The row between Shah Rukh Khan and Shiv Sena is turning out to be a who will blink first kind of a contest with Mumbai police on Wednesday sending a firm warning to Sena leaders who have refused to scale down protests against Khan and his film ‘My Name is Khan’ (MNIK).

Sharing its strategy to tackle the Sena activists before release of MNIK, Joint Commissioner of Police, Himanshu Raj said he had send notices to 50 Shiv Sena leaders. “They have been warned against fomenting trouble,” he said.

The strategy was announced on the day when sporadic incidents of vandalism occurred at various cinema halls displaying MNIK posters.

CCTV cameras with night vision have been provided at cinema halls and police men in plan clothes will be stationed at all the halls under threat of vandalism.

The Mumbai police, he said, had taken over 1500 Sainiks under preventive custody. 59 have been arrested under various offences as well.

"In the last 24 hours, over 1,200 Shiv Sainiks have
been arrested. While 955 were arrested under the preventive
action, the rest were put behind bars for different cases,
including for protesting outside the theatres, vandalising
screens among others," said Ramesh Bagwe, Minister of State
for Home said.

The sena activists, including office bearers, were
charged with rioting, damaging property, unlawful assembly and
trespassing, police said. Some people roaming near Broadway
cinema at suburban Borivali today were picked up on suspicion
that they might cause trouble.
Ignoring the government’s posture, the Sena refused to budge from its stand with its leaders insisting they will not let MNIK be screened till Shah Rukh said sorry.

A war of words had erupted between the Bollywood actor and Shiv Sena after the former expressed regret at Pakistan players not being auctioned for IPL-III. Sena has demanded an apology for the same.

Multiplex chains like PVR, Big Cinemas, Adlabs, Fun Cinemas and Cinemax have closed their advance booking windows for the film, as did single screen theatres like Mehul in Mulund and Shreyas in Ghatkopar, their officials said.

Tight security has been provided to 63 theatres across the city where the movie is scheduled to be released on February 12, they said.

Guidelines have also been issued to all police stations by the city police chief regarding security arrangements. In wake of the Sena intensifying protests against Khan, leaves of the city policemen have been cancelled to ensure their full presence.

To further strengthen security, personnel from State Reserve Police Force and Home Guards will be deployed at the 63 theatres that will screen the film here.

Some theatre owners, who had hurriedly stopped advance bookings, did a rethink by the evening. Ticket counters at BIG Cinemas opened as did those at Fun Republic Cinemas.

Said Vishal Kapur, CEO of Fun Republic: "Senior officers have assured full support and in lieu of tht we have opened the advance bookings as of now. We have have been constantly monitoring the situation because we hve to assure the safety of people."

However, single screen theatres like Mehul in Mulund and Shreyas in Ghatkopar, which had been vandalised on Tuesday, continued to be undecided.

Congress hits out at Sena

Congress today lashed out at Shiv
Sena over its stepped up protest against Shahrukh Khan-starrer
`My Name is Khan` and said civil society should condemn
parties trying to draw political mileage from movies.

"Such parties, which openly give challenge to create
instability should be condemned by the civil societies,"
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here.

"Wisdom should prevail on Shiv Sena and the Sainiks must
withdraw their agitation against the film," he told reporters.

Instead of drawing political mileage from a film, the
Sena should raise issues concerning the people, he said.

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray`s estranged daughter-in-law Smita seemed to echo her when she said: "In a democracy, such things can be sorted out across the table. Nobody has the right to take the law in their own hands."

Ironically, Shiv Sena leaders had unofficially backed down from the protests against the film Saturday, prompting Shah Rukh to tell reporters he was glad the party understood his point of view. But the U-turn came only too quickly.