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Hindu groups intensify protests against controversial Bollywood film

INDIA: Indian right-wing Hindu groups intensified protests against the release of controversial Bollywood film Padmaavat amid heightened police presence in various states yesterday, a day after the Supreme Court refused to allow some states to ban the film.

Protests against the film turned increasingly violent late on Tuesday, with vandalism around a number of multiplexes in the Western state of Gujarat and dozens of motorcycles being set on fire around malls that house theatres.

Groups critical of the project have accused its director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, of distorting history by portraying a Muslim ruler as the "lover" of Queen Padmavati of the Hindu Rajput warrior clan. The film-makers deny the accusation.

Police had to open fire to disperse crowds and protests are expected to continue in various parts of the country ahead of the release of the film today.

In the central state of Chhattisgarh, dozens of members of Rajput community staged protests and burned an effigy of Mr Bhansali on Tuesday, Mr Rakesh Singh Bais of the community group Sarwa Kshatriya Mahasabha told Reuters.

The members of the communities and from Hindu organisations will form a human chain and stage a motorcycle rally to give cinema hall owners final warnings, Mr Bais said.

Mr O. P. Galhotra, the director general of police for Rajasthan, said they have information that members of the Karni Sena and other Rajput groups were planning a protest in various parts of the state against the movie.

"We have been talking to the leaders of the Karni Sena... we have decided to allow them to hold small protests," he said. - REUTERS

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