Foreigner refuses to get up for national anthem during evening show at E-Square multiplex, angers film-goers
On Sunday, I was a few minutes late for the evening show of It's a Beautiful Afterlife. Rushing into Screen 2 of E-Square multiplex with a friend, I heard the national anthem playing. I stood rooted to my spot.
Almost the next second I heard an argument begin somewhere in the top rows. I turned and saw a man in the third row asking a foreigner seated in the fourth row to stand up for the national anthem.
The foreigner was accompanied by three Indian friends. They merely looked on, not intervening in the matter or asking their friend to stand up.
The foreigner curtly refused to oblige the man in the third row, which incited the man further and he started cursing the foreigner for visiting "our" country and disrespecting the national anthem. At this, the foreigner got agitated and gave it back, saying: "This is not my country, I will not stand up for your national anthem."
This agitated moviegoers, who threatened to "straighten up" the foreigner during the interval break. At this point, the foreigner's friends intervened and apologised on his behalf to the others.
By the time the drama got over, the national anthem had finished playing. In the interval, I approached the foreigner and his friends, who refused to speak on the subject or reveal their identities.
Neerav Panchamia, vice president (operations), E-Square, agreed the foreigner should have stood up and shown respect to the national anthem. "We expect people, whether of Indian or foreign origin to show this basic courtesy. It is unfortunate that he didn't. However, we can only request people to do so and not force them. We can't hold someone by the collar and tell him to respect the national anthem," said Panchamia.
DCP Mahesh Patil of Zone III said: "I am not aware of the incident so I am unable to comment."
Asim Sarode, human rights activist and lawyer, said: "It is a punishable offence. Even if the person is a foreign national, he has to obey the law of the land."