Islamic cleric joins successful 'Gandhigiri' protest

Nov 8, 2006 IANS

Lucknow, Nov 8 (IANS) A top Shia cleric Wednesday joined in a unique protest inspired by Bollywood blockbuster "Lago Raho Munnabhai" to press for shifting of a liquor shop from the vicinity of a temple here.

The Maulana, who is also senior vice president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), surprised all when he donned the 'Gandhi cap' and joined local residents of Rana Pratap Marg to put flowers in front of the closed shop - a gesture shown in the film to be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.

He also drew tremendous applause when he hailed the protestors while addressing a fairly large gathering in an enclosure erected on the road itself.

And as in the film, the two-month old protest movement seemed to be coming to a successful conclusion.

The Maulana's presence left the liquor shop owner so jittery that he not only chose to keep his shutters down for most of the day, but no sooner than the demonstration was over, he came down to assure the protestors that he would start looking for an alternative location to shift his shop.

"Just give me some time to find a suitable alternative location and I am assuring you that I will shift my liquor shop from here," Gurnam Singh, shop owner and a liquor magnet, told the residents.

"Even if I am unable to find another place, I will make it a point not to renew my licence for this site which expires in March 2007."

Earlier, praising the Sanjay Dutt-starrer "Lago Raho Munnabhai", the Maulana told the crowd: "Some films are known to misguide and mislead people but here is this movie, which clearly appears to be guiding masses to the right path and was therefore praiseworthy."

He, however, denied having seen the film himself.

He also went up to the temple and said: "While a liquor shop is bad anywhere, it cannot be tolerated in the vicinity of a temple or any other religious place."

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Lage Raho Munnabhai


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