Entry to the famous Chittorgarh fort in Rajasthan was closed on Friday as a few thousand people sat on dharna outside the main gate to protest Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming movie ‘Padmavati’, which many claim distorts historical facts.
Tourists visiting the Unesco World Heritage site fort were requested to go back.
The fort is visited by around 3,000-4,000 tourists from October, as the tourist season picks up.
“We closed the first gate known as Padan Pol since 8 a.m. We did not allow anyone to enter the fort. It was a peaceful protest and continued till 6 p.m.,” member of Sarv Samaj Protest Committee Ranjit Singh told IANS.
“Around 5,000-6,000 persons sat on dharna outside the gate. We will continue the dharna till our demand on ban on the film is not met. We have decided to review the situation next Friday,” said Mangal Singh, joint secretary, Chittorgarh, Mewar Shatriya Mahasabha, which supported the protest.
Over 500-1,000 women also participated in the protest, Singh claimed.
However, the police said the protesters numbered around 1,000.
The protesters demanded that the movie, based on the life of Rani Padmini or Padmavati, who was queen of Chittorgarh, should not be released.
“It is for the first time since Independence that the entry to the fort has been blocked,” claimed another member of Sarv Samaj Protest committee.
There were some moments of panic when someone reportedly fired gun shots in the air as the protesters were sitting on dharna.
Protesters also “hanged” the effigies of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, actress Deepika Padukone and actor Salman Khan at the protest site.
There was heavy police presence to deal with any untoward incident. Barricades were put up outside the fort.
“The protest went on peacefully. We have identified the person who fired shots in the air and further investigations are going on,” a police official told IANS.
In other parts of Rajasthan, including Jaipur and Ajmer, there were reports of protests held by the Karni Sena. In Ajmer in front of a picture hall, some miscreants put up a poster saying that “Padmavati” will not be released.
A Karni Sena leader on Thursday threatened actress Deepika Padukone, who plays the lead in the movie, with physical harm over her “provocative statements”.
Earlier this week in an interview to IANS, Deepika said: “The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film.”