BJP media coordinator offers $1.5 million reward for murder of Bollywood director, actress

Members of Rajput community attend a protest against the release of the upcoming Bollywood movie 'Padmavati' in Mumbai, India, on November 20, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 21 November 2017
0

BJP media coordinator offers $1.5 million reward for murder of Bollywood director, actress

NEW DELHI: A senior member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) says cinemas will be burned down if the movie “Padmvati” is released.
Suraj Pal Amu, BJP’s media coordinator in the northern state of Haryana, made the threat just a day after he offered a bounty of 100 million rupees ($1.5 million) for "the heads" of the film’s director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and lead actress Deepika Padukone. The party has reportedly asked Amu to issue a public apology for the bounty offer.
“The warrior caste of the country has the strength to burn all the theatres in India if they play the movie,” Amu told Arab News.
“Padmavati” is based on the 16th century Sufi epic poem “Padmavat” — a fictional account of a Rajput Hindu queen who chose to commit "sati," the medieval practice of self-immolation on the funeral pyre of her husband, rather than be taken captive by the Muslim king Allaudin Khilji, who ruled Delhi in the 14th century.
Over the years, perhaps because of the poem’s popularity and constant retelling, it has assumed the aura of factual history for some. And members of the Rajput community are accusing the director of distorting history and showing the community in a bad light. Bhansali denies that is the case.
Rumors of a scene in the film showing the Muslim king dreaming of a romantic tryst with the Hindu queen have enraged many, including Rajput Karni Sena (RKS), a militant fringe caste group, who have called for the film to be banned.
When Arab News contacted Bhansali for comment, he said only that he had nothing to add to what he has already said.
Viacom18 Motion Pictures, the production company behind “Padmavati,” has already postponed its initial release, slated for Dec. 1.
But the Rajput community is asking for the movie to be banned from screening in the country at all.
“The government should not allow the movie to hit the theaters,” said Lokendra Singh Lakvi, a patron of RKS. “We are requesting the Indian prime minister and other chief ministers of the state to ban the movie. Bhansali has a habit of making controversial movies.”
Three BJP-ruled states — Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh — have already announced they have banned the movie for its “distortion of history.”
Political analyst Urmilesh believes the controversy is a “deliberate ploy” that the BJP hopes will deflect attention from the country’s economic struggles, which, as he pointed out, are currently attracting “scathing press” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The crucial Gujarat elections are not far away,” Urmilesh told Arab News. “Modi is cornered there and by polarizing voters (along the) Hindu-Muslim (divide), the BJP wants to play the old game there.”
“Padmavati” has stirred up controversy before. Earlier this year, some members of the RKS invaded the film’s set and assaulted Bhansali.


Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

Updated 16 July 2019
0

Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

  • Iceland spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the Philippines' deadly anti-drug crackdown
  • Philippine police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016.

MANILA: The Philippine president is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.”
Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte “is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland” for initiating the “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” resolution.
Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Philippines’ highest-ranking lawmaker said on Monday a UN resolution to probe the country’s bloody war on drugs should be ignored, and its chief backer Iceland be investigated instead for human rights abuses in allowing abortion.
“They have more unborn babies that they have aborted or killed. There are more killings in abortion than the drug pushers who are fighting the police,” Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel.
The Nordic nation lacks moral grounds to lecture the Philippines on human rights, Sotto said. “So we should disregard that resolution.”
His remarks are the latest in a series of comments from lawmakers urging the government to not cooperate after the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted Iceland’s resolution to investigate thousands of deaths under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Critics and rights group said authorities summarily execute suspects, which the police deny.
“The criminals can fight back, the babies cannot. What human rights are they talking about?” Sotto said, adding that drug dealers that fight back and destroy families lose their human rights.
His comments about abortion echoed those made by incoming Senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rights groups, which hailed the UN vote as a step toward accountability, point out that the bloody anti-narcotics campaign is marked by systematic cover-ups, planted evidence and impunity.
The president’s spokesman on Monday warned countries not to meddle with the state’s affairs.
“All incidents in the war on drugs are tallied, recorded. All they have to do is ask us, not to pre-judge us,” presidential spokesman Spokesman Panelo told a regular news conference. “It behoves them to render respect to a sovereign state.”
Duterte on Friday mocked Iceland as an ice-eating nation without understanding of his country’s problems.