Uninformed protesters create high drama over Dutt's play

Sep 27, 2013, 02:40 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

Around 300 demonstrators agitated outside Balgandharva Rangmandir yesterday, oblivious of the fact that the jailed actor's performance had been deferred and shifted to another venue

With all preparations in place and the stage set for the play starring jailed Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, police officials prematurely brought down the curtains on the highly anticipated showyesterday.

Citing security concerns, authorities called off the show at noon. Titled ‘Timiratun Tejakde’, the Marathi play was scheduled to take place at the Balgandharva Rangmandir at 2.30 pm. Highly placed sources inside Yerawada jail said that the decision to defer the show was taken after they received inputs from the Intelligence Bureau of a possible threat to the event.

According to jail authorities, the programme is likely to be held at the KK Mangal Karyalay, situated opposite the Yerawada Central Lail premises, within the next two days. Officials claimed that the marriage hall where the programme is expected to be held is booked for September 29 and 30 for a police event and the passing-out parade of new jail recruits, which means that the play would probably be staged before September 29.

Caught napping: Unaware of the cancellation of the play, 300 members of Hindu Rashtra Sena gathered illegally outside Balgandharva Rangmandir yesterday to protest against the performance. Pics/Krunal Gosavi

While speaking to mediapersons, additional director general (prisons) Meeran Borwankar said, “The programme at Balgandharva Rangmandir was cancelled due to security reasons. We had also received inputs by intelligence agencies, so we decided to stop the show. The performance would have earned Rs 30 lakh as revenue for the prison department. We will refund the money to those who were issued tickets.”

Sources also claimed that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had also expressed his displeasure over allowing Dutt to act in thisplay. Meanwhile, unaware of the cancellation, 300 members of the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) gathered illegally outside the venue to protest against the play at 3 pm.

“We came to know that the show had been postponed when we arrived at Balgandharva Rangmandir, after seeing the notice board. However, after learning that the show was not cancelled, but only postponed, we tried to burn Dutt’s poster,” said Raju Raundhale, protest organiser.

With matters getting out of hand, police resorted to a lathi-charge to disperse the illegally gathered demonstrators. “Three cops started beating us with a wooden stick, due to which four of our members were severely injured,” added Raundhale, adding that the cops beating them during their peaceful protest were not wearing uniforms. He, however, agreed that the HRS had not secured official permission to carry out the rally. 

Zone-I DCP Makarand Ranade said, “We had told them that the show at Rangmandir was cancelled, but they still tried to burn posters of Dutt. So we dispersed them. Legal action will be taken against the HRS members.” Police sub-inspector Umakant Pune, of Balgandharva Police chowky, said, “Hindu Rashtra Sena activists created a ruckus on the premises of Balgandharva Rangmandir.

Police stopped these activists and also carried out a mild lathi-charge. However, none of the activists have been arrested yet.” Police Inspector (Crime) S G Kenjale said, “A case of obstructing police officers on duty and protesting without permission has been registered against Hindu Rashtra Sena president Vaidya Arun Bhagat, and 80 of his accomplices. A case has been registered at the Deccan police station under relevant sections of the IPC.”

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