Mumbai: City cinema theatres on Thursday turned into virtual fortresses ahead of tomorrow’s release of the Shah Rukh Khan starrer My Name is Khan as Shiv Sena kept up its attack on the Maharashtra government for siding with the actor, whom it branded a “Pakistan lover”.
Over 1,600 Sena activists, including functionaries, have been arrested in the last two days to thwart protests by the saffron outfit, which has vowed not to allow screening of the mega budget film till the actor apologised for his remarks favouring Pakistani players in IPL-3.
In an editorial titled My Name is Ashok Khan, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana flayed Maharashtra chief Minister Ashok Chavan, saying he was siding with Khan, “a Pakistan lover”, to retain his chief ministerial chair.
“Produce a film My Name is Kasab and hand over the nationalist youth opposing it, to Pakistan. Ashok Khan, we are sure you will do it,” the editorial said.
The Sena also claimed that the state government prevented a meeting between party chief Bal Thackeray and the actor.
“Khan had expressed willingness to meet Thackeray after his US trip to resolve the issue. However, the ruling Congress-NCP combine foiled the bid, saying the government was capable of tackling the Shiv Sainiks,” it said.
“SRK has now declared in Abu Dhabi that he would be meeting Thackeray to ensure smooth release of his film in Maharashtra,” the newspaper said.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray said his party is not going to take part in the ongoing agitation against Khan and would concentrate on working in the interest of Marathi people.
Accusing Shiv Sena of adopting double standards, Raj asked why megastar Amitabh Bachchan was not being targeted for sharing dais with an actor from the neighbouring country.
“Recently, Amitabh Bachchan shared dais with Pakistani actor Zia Mohyeddin in a media-sponsored programme. But the issue was not raised like that of Khan,” Raj told reporters here.
Terming Bachchan’s behaviour as a “duplicity”, Raj said, “Amitabh refused to accept honour from an Australian university last year (to protest attacks on Indians there), then how can he share dais with Pakistani actor when terrorists from the same country attacked us.”
On the Government’s stand on the issue, Raj said it is true that the law and order situation is not good but he would not like to speak anything on handling of the matter.
To prevent cine-goers from the ire of Shiv Sena, the city police has made elaborate security arrangements.
“Elaborate security measures have been adopted to ensure no untoward incident happens (before and after the release of the movie). Nobody would be spared for taking law into their hands,” warned Home Minister R R Patil.
The theatre-owners have been asked to install Night Vision Cameras that would enable police to identify troublemakers in case of any untoward incident.
They have also been advised to keep the first three rows vacant and deploy at least two security guards inside the hall so that incidents such as ripping off screens with sharp instruments by troublemakers can be averted.
Notices warning Sena party leaders not to create law and order problems have been issued by the police. Police Commissioner D Sivanandan has issued guidelines to all the police stations regarding security arrangements.