World

Indian states seek last-ditch film ban amid violent protests

MUMBAI Indian state governments made a last-ditch attempt yesterday to ban a Bollywood film about a mythical Hindu queen that has sparked violent protests by radical groups.

The Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments asked India's top court to retract a ruling ordering states to show the film Padmaavat, which is due to hit screens on Thursday.

The urgent petitions, which the Supreme Court will hear today, were lodged a day after Hindu extremists set fire to buses and blocked roads in Gujarat.

In Rajasthan, women carrying swords marched in Chittorgarh city against the movie. In Noida city, near New Delhi, activists burned toll booths on a major highway after a rally.

Protesters claim the film falsely depicts a romance between 14th-century Hindu queen Padmavati and Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji. The producers deny this and insist the movie portrays her respectfully.

The Supreme Court last week overturned a ban on the film's release that had been imposed by several states, saying it violated creative freedoms.

The states have asked the court instead to rule that individual state governments be allowed to block the release on law-and-order grounds.

A caste-based group called the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which has been leading the violent protests, has threatened to attack cinemas showing the film, including with swords.

Its leaders claim that hundreds of women are ready to perform self-immolation if the movie showing goes ahead.

Earlier this month, the film censor board cleared Padmaavat for release subject to five changes. - AFP

WORLD