50 held for protesting movie with Maoist theme

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BHUBANESWAR - At least 50 activists of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were arrested Thursday in the Orissa capital for disrupting the screening of an Oriya film with a Maoist theme, police said.

“The activists were arrested after they tore posters, prevented the viewers from entering the cinema hall and attempted to stop the screening of ‘Swayamsidha’,” Deputy Commissioner of Police H.K. Lal told IANS.

“The screening resumed after the protesters were arrested,” he said.

“However, the BJP activists then went on to burn posters and marched on the streets in other areas - protesting the release of the vernacular film. They alleged it has glorified the Maoist ideology,” a police officer said.

“We want a ban on the film as we believe it will encourage anti-national activities,” Bibhuti Jena, president of the BJP’s state youth wing, told reporters.

However, the producer of the film, Prabhat Ranjan Mallick, denied the charge and said the movie was an attempt to bring the so-called Naxals (Maoists) to the mainstream.

Sidhant Mohapatra, a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member of the Lok Sabha, is playing the role of a Maoist leader in the film. Mohapatra has acted in over 100 films, mostly in Oriya. ‘Swayamsidha’ is his first release after entering the Lok Sabha last year.

Another BJD Lok Sabha member, Prasanna Patsani, is also appearing in the movie in a special appearance.

“Mohapatra, acting in the movie, has gone on to the extent of justifying and glorifying Maoism. He has endorsed their activities,” Jena said.

The movie has been shot in the dense forests of Koraput district which is considered a Maoist hotbed.

Jena suspects the Maoists have helped the actors and the producer, a charge they have denied in the past.

Jena has also sought the intervention of the Orissa High court in seeking a ban on the film. The High Court Wednesday appointed a five-member committee to attend the premiere of the movie at Cuttack and submit a report on the possible impact it could have on the younger generation.

The committee, comprising of senior police officers and lawyers, watched the movie Thursday amid tight security without any trouble.

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