Won’t tolerate beating up movie-goers: Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Tuesday said beating up movie-goers would not be tolerated and action would be taken against culprits in such incidents.

Fadnavis’s statement came after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former minister Jitendra Awhad on Monday forced the cancellation of the screening of the Marathi movie Har Har Mahadev in a Thane mall and complaints emerged of NCP workers assaulting movie-goers.

“People are allowed to register their opposition democratically. Entering a movie theatre and beating up moviegoers will not be tolerated. Action will be taken against the (alleged) perpetrators,” said Fadnavis.

Meanwhile, the Thane police Tuesday registered an FIR against Awhad and several supporters who were with him at the Viviana mall in Thane on Monday night. Awhad, who led several NCP supporters inside the theatre, asked the patrons to leave, stating that the movie “distorted the Maratha history and such movies would not be allowed to be released in the state”.

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An officer from Thane police said that the FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections of rioting, voluntarily causing hurt and provoking breach of trust. The official said that some people who had come to see the movie were also hurt in the melee that ensued. No arrests were made in the case, said the police.

The incident happened hours after the NCP warned the film industry, asserting that “any distortion of history under the name of freedom of expression and cinematic liberty will not be tolerated, and such films will face opposition”.

The NCP’s move came in support of Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati from the Kolhapur royal family — a former Rajya Sabha member and descendant of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj — who also warned that films distorting historical facts about Shivaji’s life will be strongly opposed, with efforts being taken on preventing the release of such films.

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This came in the wake of the release of Har Har Mahadev, and the announcement of an upcoming film titled Vedat Marathe Veer Daudale Saat during which state Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray were present.

“A number of inaccuracies have been pointed out in the recently released movie Har Har Mahadev. We have also been hearing about fact distortion in Vedat Marathe Veer Daudale Saat. We will stall the release of any other such film in the future,” Sambhajiraje said on Sunday.

The FIR was based on the complaint of one Vijay Dhurve who was watching the movie in the theatre. Dhurve in his complaint said that when the NCP supporters started shutting down the screening, he asked that the money he paid for the movie be refunded following which he was roughed up by some of the supporters. Eventually, Awhad intervened in the matter and he was allowed to go.

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DCP (zone V) Vinay Rathod said, “We have registered an FIR in the matter and so far, no arrests have been made. We have called some of the accused to record their statement and will decide on the course of action after their statements are registered.”