There have been increasing incidents of violence at film screening since the Supreme Court made it mandatory for spectators in cinema halls to stand at attention during the national anthem. Now, the Centre has issued instructions on how disabled persons must “show respect to the national anthem“ in theatres. Activists said this will incite vigilante groups to enforce their brand of “misplaced patriotism“.Amalraj Dasan (59) was beaten by a drunken spectator for not standing during a national anthem scene in `Dangal‘ last Wednesday in Goregaon.

The December 21, 2016 advisory , released on Wednesday , was issued by the ministry for social justice & empowerment.

Rajiv Mehta is a trustee of Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, which provides the Jaipur Foot to handicapped people. He said the order sprinkled salt on the wounds of people distressed by a handicap. “A paraplegic may be unable to rise as his back does not support him. Another may have no legs. Do theatres have ramps or facilities for the disabled? This rule will prompt people driven by false national pride to take the law into their own hands,“ Mehta said. A stunned silence befell Zarina Shroff, the parent of an autistic child, when she heard the news. Shroff volunteers at Om Creations Trust, which rehabilitates mentally challenged people. She said, “Those of us who care must immediately file a petition against this notice. Else, troublemakers will enforce false patriotism. How -and why -should the audience decide whether a handicapped person is able to stand or not?
What is the measure or gauge?“ Shroff’s daughter is borderline autistic and often watches movies with the family .“She does stand for the Jana Gana Mana as we have told her so. But autistic children are unpredictable. When she is angry or having a meltdown, she will not listen. Instead of facilitating sensitivity towards the handicapped, the government has created fresh trouble for them,“ she said.

Sheela Sinha heads the Helen Keller Institute for people with various disabilities.“Handicapped people who are able to stand must do so. But how will family members sensitise the entire audience during a film screening? Who has given anybody the right to beat those who are seated? It seems as if all other problems that beset the nation have been dealt with.“