A Mangaluru-based activist is being targeted online with abuse and rape threats after she complained against Bajrang Dal activists who allegedly intimidated cinema halls into stopping the screening of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale.
On Monday, Mangaluru North police station registered an FIR against the state convenor of the Bajrang Dal Sharan Pumpwell and others for causing a ‘climate of fear’ among theatre owners and the public. Various sections of the IPC including causing criminal intimidation and criminal trespassing have been invoked.
In the two days since, numerous people targeted activist Vidya Dinker on Facebook with sexually coloured abuse including rape threats and other insults. Vidya says she will file a complaint against the abuse on Thursday.
Bajrang Dal activists in Mangaluru had protested against the screening of the film following Shah Rukh Khan’s comments on intolerance on November 2. They also asked for a ban on the screening of Aamir Khan’s films for the same reasons.
“I heard a few people, who had booked tickets for Shah Rukh’s Dilwale, complain that when they went to the theatre on Sunday evening theatre owners offered a refund as the movie would not be screened,” Dinker said.
“I was told by a theatre owner that on Sunday right-wing activists came to the theatre asking that the 4 pm to 7 pm screening that was mid-way be stopped. However, the right-wing activists agreed let the ongoing show get over and cancel screening thereafter,” Dinker said.
Having waited until Tuesday for screenings to resume, the dismayed activist went to speak to the head of a cinema chain at a mall in the city. She said that owners told her that they had been intimidated into giving up screening the film.
“The complete fear that they have managed to instil in everyone means that there is a parallel criminal justice system at work,” she said, adding that she and some others met the police commissioner urging action against such intimidation.
Dinker told The News Minute that the police were reluctant to take the complaint as they claimed that the theatre owners could have voluntarily not screened the film and the police cannot take action.
Vidya said that one franchisee of a multiplex had told her that Bajrang Dal activists had torn the poster on the ground floor of the mall and that they were worried that damage would follow if they went ahead with the screening.
Sharan Pumpwell, state president of Bajrang Dal told The News Minute that the activists only “requested” theatre owners not to screen Shah Rukh Khan’s film and that Dinker’s claims are baseless.
“We did not cause any physical damage as Vidya Dinker claims. The theatre owners themselves respected our sentiments and agreed to stop the screening,” said Pumpwell.
It is an open secret that some influential leaders of Hindutva groups have security contracts in more than one of the three malls in Mangaluru.
“The police also told me that they would take action if the theatre owners complain. But owners are reluctant as they have long-term survival in mind,” she said.
“When a business is run with fear of these local goons in the back of their mind and when there is no confidence in the police that itself should be reason for the police to take a Suo motu action,” she added.
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