Hindu extremists in India are threatening violence if a new Bollywood film Padmavaat is released that they allege depicts a romance between queen Padmaavati and a 14th century Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji. They have not seen the film and the filmmakers say the film does not show this and have offered an advance screening to allay their fears. But hell hath no fury like an enraged religious extremist and now that they have got worked up, they are not going to calm down easily.
Not being steeped in Indian history, I am not sure what exactly the problem is. Is the very idea of the queen having any romance at all the problem or is it because it was with a Muslim? Wikipedia suggests that she was actually a fictional character in an epic poem, though he actually existed. The fact that she may be fictional does not seem to be a factor because we know that violently defending the honor of fictional entities is a common religious trait and there have been mob rampages attacking totally innocent and defenseless people.
In Gurgaon, just outside the Indian capital New Delhi, protesters attacked a school bus. They threw stones at the bus as petrified students crouched on the floor of the bus in fear, Indian broadcaster NDTV reported. No one was injured in the attack.
In a separate incident in the city, a bus was torched by a mob, blocking a major highway.
The protesters carried sticks and caused minor injuries to 14 people, said B.S. Sandhu, a senior police official, adding that police had detained 15 protesters.
“We will not tolerate any violence in the name of protests against a movie,” Sandhu added. “Sporadic rioting did take place but no one will be allowed to protest now.”
Similar riots unfolded in other cities, with baton-wielding police charging protesters in Etawah in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh state as they marched through the streets. Demonstrators also blocked a passenger train in the city of Mathura in the state.
One group of people has threatened to kill themselves.
A group of about 150 women belonging to the Rajput community have threatened to burn themselves alive if the film was released.
“The government should either ban the film, or give us the permission to kill ourselves,” one of the women told Indian broadcaster Times Now.
I am not sure why they think they need permission from the government to kill themselves or what giving permission for suicide might look like, but it is a good idea. Given the nightmare of Indian bureaucracy, they would probably have to go to several government offices, fill out forms in triplicate, and get signatures from several officials, and that could take months if not years. By that time their ardor for killing themselves might well have cooled.
But this is no laughing matter because when you have religious crazies like this, they can be fired up to do anything and some prominent people are egging them on.
The film was cleared for release earlier this month by the country’s censor board with five changes, including tweaking the title to ‘Padmaavat,’ from ‘Padmavati.’ Despite the clearance, some Indian states banned the screening of the movie, citing law and order concerns. The ban was overturned by the country’s top court last week.
Several hardliners, including a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have offered bounties of up to $769,000 to anyone who “beheaded” lead actress Deepika Padukone or the film’s director Bhansali.
Giving a reward for the murder of someone is of course a crime but I am not sure if under the Indian penal code just the offer of a reward is a crime by itself if the murder does not take place. What Modi will do with his party member is of interest. I do not expect much. The people rioting are his base and he is pretty much like Trump, a coddler and enabler of extremists.