In Gujarat, nothing official about 'Fanaa' protests

Jun 27, 2006 IANS


Ahmedabad, June 27 (IANS) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would have no blame at his doorstep for statewide protests targeting actor Aamir Khan - after all, his film is not officially banned here, but he has ensured that he takes the credit for them in the eyes of the pro-Narmada lobby in the state.


Following the self-immolation of Pravin Joshi - who died last Tuesday - to protest Khan's remarks, Modi and his cabinet colleagues have come forward to announce compensation to the victim's family - in their personal capacity.


Khan earned the wrath of Gujarat's political parties in April by supporting the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) that is fighting for the rights of the tribal people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river in the state - seen as a "lifeline" for the drought-prone parts of Gujarat.


Activists of the youth wings of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress forced cinema theatres to stop the screening of the Khan-starrer "Rang De Basanti" then, apart from burning his posters.


Ahead of the release of Khan's latest "Fanaa" last month, the BJP youth wing demanded an apology from the actor for his "anti-Gujarat" remarks, but Aamir declined to do so.


Theatres and multiplexes in the state refused to screen the new film, saying they would not go against the "popular sentiment".


During the protests against both the films, the state government had not taken any stance even as the BJP put the Congress behind in leading protestors.


Joshi immolated himself June 11 in the Ambar theatre of the town of Jamnagar, Saurashtra, to register his protest against the screening of "Fanaa" at the cinema house - the only one in Gujarat to do so - though it stopped showing the film after the unfortunate incident.


After Joshi succumbed to his injuries, Arjun Modhvadia, leader of the opposition, has demanded compensation from the government for the victim's family.


While there is no official response to the demand, all Gujarat ministers have contributed Rs.5,000 each in their personal capacity and handed over Rs.130,000 to Joshi's family.


Many social and community organisations have followed their example.


The Brahma Samaj, an organisation of Brahmins in Jamnagar and Rajkot, said it would give Rs.100,000 to Joshi's family, while the Kadva Patidar Samaj, another community body, committed to donate Rs.25,000.


The "Narmada Committee of Jamnagar" also said it would raise funds for Joshi's family.


Jamnagar mayor Manoharsinh Jhala of the BJP said: "We demand that the state must provide compensation. However, if the government does not, I will contribute some amount from the mayor's fund.


"After all, he lost his life for a cause," Jhala said.


Meanwhile, the Gujarat police have registered a complaint against the actor. "A complaint has been lodged against Aamir Khan for making inciting statements against the Narmada dam that led the youth to commit suicide," said H.R. Muliana, deputy superintendent of police of Porbandar.


"The producer of the movie and the theatre owner have been booked for neglecting public sentiment by screening the film," the police official added.



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