Padmaavat opens in India amid violence threats | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 26, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:27 AM, January 26, 2018

Padmaavat opens in India amid violence threats

Thousands of police in riot gear yesterday guarded cinemas across India amid threats of violence by Hindu hardliners opposed to the release of a movie about a legendary Hindu queen and a Muslim king.

Some schools near Delhi closed after an attack on a school bus, while distributors in several states have said they will not show "Padmaavat" because of fears of violence.

The Bollywood epic still opened in nearly 5,000 cinemas across the country early yesterday under heightened security.

Paramilitary forces and police in riot gear manned barriers around cinemas in New Delhi, Mumbai and other main cities.

Radical groups say the film falsely portrays Queen Padmavati. The producers vehemently deny the claim while most historians doubt that Padmavati even existed.

Fanatical groups belonging to India's Rajput caste, who revere Padmavati, have lead protests against the film for nearly a year. They have been supported by other Hindu groups since the film was cleared for release by the state censor this month.

Dozens of school children ducked inside a bus that was pelted with stones by anti-Padmaavat protesters in Gurgaon, a satellite city of Delhi. Another bus was set on fire.

On Tuesday several hundred people attacked shops, set alight dozens of motorbikes and damaged more than 150 cars across Gujarat state's main city Ahmedabad.

Nearly 250 accused have been arrested over the rampage, Gujarat state home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja said late Wednesday.

In Mumbai -- the home of India's Bollywood film industry -- police rounded up 50 people affiliated to a hardline Hindu group after protesters set car tyres ablaze during an angry demonstration late Tuesday.

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