Anti-Padmaavat protesters unleash violence in Ahmedabad; vehicles burnt ahead of Karni Sena chief’s visit


Ahmedabad: Gujarat government’s claims of beefing up security at multiplexes in the wake of high threat perception surrounding the release of ‘Padmaavat’ went up in smoke as mobs affiliated with Rajput outfits on Tuesday night indulged in widespread arson and violence.

Also read: Padmaavat review: An artistic masterpiecePosh localities in western Ahmedabad temporarily plunged into lawlessness as mobs ruled the roads — attacking shops, torching vehicles and pelting stones at Wide Angle Multiplex and Gulmohar Park Mall in Satellite; PVR Cinemas at Acropolis on SG Road; Himalaya Mall on Gurukul Road and Ahmedabad One Mall in Vastrapur.

At least 200-odd vehicles including bikes and cars were either set ablaze or damaged completely.

Deputy CM Nitin Patel joined the Karni Sena in appealing people to refrain from watching ‘Padmaavat’ and maintain law and order in the state. “We had banned Padmaavat’s release respecting feelings of the Rajput community. However, there is tension in the state and the present situation is because of the Supreme Court order allowing its release. We feel that people should voluntarily boycott the film.”

Over half-a-dozen shops at Himalaya Mall also bore the brunt of violence as mobs pelted stones and damaged facades. CCTV footage from multiplexes showed the sheer audacity with which protesters took law and order into their hands. Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES) teams were sent to multiple locations to douse the flames.

The violence followed a ‘candle march’ event called against screening of ‘Padmaavat’ at SG Road wherein hundreds of protesters participated. Once the candle-light march got over, mobs ran amok, targeting one multiplex after another.Cops swung into action only after the mobs had unleashed violence on cinema halls and dispersed.

Police personnel fired two rounds in air outside Himalaya Mall, which reported maximum damage to vehicles and property. Rakesh Mehta, manager of Himalaya Mall, said, “Large mobs hurled petrol bombs and torched bikes of delivery boys of a fast-food chain. They also looted cellphones from a mobile show room.”Minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja said, “Anti-social elements who held city at ransom will not be spared.

Ten persons have been arrested and more action will be taken against perpetrators of violence.”Commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, A K Singh, claimed that the bandobast was adequate. “Police are in process of identifying those involved in violence even as security has been beefed up in city.”We stopped all shows and vacated the cinema and the mall immediately to prevent any untoward incident,” said Jayen Naik, manager, Ahmedabad One Mall.”We will review the situation before reopening on Wednesday,” said Aditya Shah, CFO, Gulmohar Park Mall.

Curiously, Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena (SRRKS) distanced itself from the violence in Ahmedabad. “Karni Sena cannot resort to such violence; it is an attempt to malign our name. As multiplexes had agreed not to release the film, there is no question of violence. We appeal for peace,” said SRRKS Gujarat president, Raj Shekhawat.

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