Now a Rajput group protests 'Jodhaa Akbar' ban

Feb 24, 2008


Bhopal, Feb 24 (IANS) The Rajput community in Madhya Pradesh is divided over the screening of director Ashutosh Gowariker's magnum opus "Jodhaa Akbar". While protests by one section led to the screening being stopped in the state, another group has now said it has no problems with the film being shown.

Challenging the government's decision to suspend the film's screening, a member of the Kshatriya Samaj Saturday filed a petition in the district court holding the ban on the film as a breach of fundamental rights.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government Friday suspended the screening, a week after its release, fearing that it may cause a law and order problem after the Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Mahasabha of the Rajput Kshatriya community protested against the film's content.

Rakesh Singh Rajput, who represents the Kshatriya Samaj and who filed the petition, said the group had no problems with the portrayal of Akbar and Jodha Bai. Gowariker's film focuses on the early years of Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar and his marriage of alliance with Rajput princess Jodha Bai.

Singh has filed a petition against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief secretary Rakesh Sahni and principal secretary commercial taxes G.P. Singhal for suspending the screening of the Hrithik Roshan-Aishwarya Rai starrer.

The petition was filed in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Ajay Shrivastava. It was transferred it to the court of Judicial Magistrate Pradeep Soni, who will hear it Monday.

Singh's advocate Rajkumar Pandey told IANS: "The petition challenges the decision of the state government as it infringes the fundamental rights of the people by depriving them of a Uniform Civil Code under Article 44 and preventing the cinema hall owners from carrying out their trade guaranteed under Article 301.

"It also leads to violation of Article 15 of the constitution, which prevents the state government from prohibition on the basis of caste, sex, religion, and place."

The Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Mahasabha got the screening stopped as they maintain that depicting Jodha Bai as Akbar's wife is an "insult" to the community. They claim Jodha was the emperor's daughter-in-law and have threatened to burn cinema halls screening the movie.

"We will resort to violence if our forefathers are insulted," Surendra Singh Tomar, Mahasabha general secretary, had said.

Some groups had held demonstrations against its screening in Gwalior, Indore, Ujjain, Dhar and Khandwa last week.

Chief Minister Chouhan had said: "The screening of the movie has been suspended for the time being only. Later, the situation would be reviewed and a final decision taken soon."

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state unit also condemned the ban on "Jodhaa Akbar", describing it as a "surrender of democratic values before narrow-mindedness" and termed it an example of "literary illiteracy" akin to "Talibanisation".

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