Riots erupted in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday in Ahmedabad (western India), triggered by radical Hindu protesters to prevent the release of a Bollywood film, ransacking shopping malls and burning cars and two wheels.

ueen of legend

These radical groups have been standing up for months against the film “Padmaavat”, on a mythical Hindu queen whose story takes place at the turn of the 14th century, a symptomatic controversy of politico-religious tensions currently at work in India.

They accuse the film, which they have not seen and despite the director’s denials, to show a romance between this Rajput queen and the Muslim conqueror Ala Ud-Din Khalji, who seized the fortress of Chittorgarh in 1303.

Opponents of the film say that the supposed romance between the two protagonists would offend the sensibilities of the Rajput caste. Most historians believe that Padmaavati is a legendary queen, who never really existed.
In Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, stronghold of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the protest took a violent turn. Several hundred people attacked shops and burned about 50 motorcycles and damaged more than 150 cars across the city, local police said.

Ten people were arrested Tuesday in connection with these events, said Pradipsinh Jadeja, interior minister of Gujarat. This brings the number of movie-related arrests to more than 60 in 48 hours in the state.

“These are anti-social individuals who are trying to disrupt the peace of the state and will be treated with firmness,” Jadeja told reporters.

“Fatwa” against the director and the actress

In the face of unrest, several states controlled by the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted to ban “Padmaavat” in the name of the protection of public order. A measure that was rejected by the Supreme Court, which considered that it infringed on artistic freedom.

In recent days, marginal groups have blocked roads, burned buses and tolls to protest the release of the film scheduled for Thursday.

In January 2017, members of Rajput Karni Sena, a caste group, ransacked the set of “Padmaavat” filming in Rajasthan. His leader had also offered a reward of 50 million rupees (637,000 euros) to anyone “beheading” the director or the main actress.