Hindutva Protesters Stop Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor From Entering MP Temple

Hindutva activists have been escalating an increasingly frenzied online campaign against the film 'Brahmastra' from the time its trailer was released.

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New Delhi: Hindutva activists on Tuesday, September 6, stopped Hindi film actors Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt from entering the Mahakal temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain.

The activists – who the news agency PTI identified as belonging to Bajrang Dal – claimed that they were protesting against one of the actor’s alleged remarks on beef consumption and the film itself.

Reports have said that Mahakal police lathicharged protesters. Several videos are also circulating online, showing activists shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as the actors’ car appears to pass.

Eyewitnesses said despite the lathicharge, the protesters were adamant did not allow Kapoor and Bhatt to enter the temple.

The news agency PTI quoted an unnamed police official as having said that police “have taken action” under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Indian Penal Code against a rightwing activist. It is not clear who the said activist is or whether she or he has been arrested.

“We will not allow them to worship at the holy Mahakaleshwar temple as a few days back Ranbir had said that he likes to eat mutton, chicken and beef in non-veg food,” Bajrang Dal leader Ankit Choube told reporters.

Choube also said, “Even Alia had said that those who want to see her film Brahmastra should watch [it], while others who are not keen shouldn’t.”

While it is unclear as to how this comment was deemed offensive, Bhatt is understood to have made it when asked by a news outlet to respond to the outrage against the film Brahmastra, which, notably, hasn’t yet been released.

Hindutva activists have been escalating an increasingly frenzied online campaign against the film, directed by Ayan Mukherjee. #BoycottBrahmastra has been a popular hashtag, used thousands of times to express outrage against various aspects of the film and its actors.

The online outrage began when the trailer of the film was released, in which Kapoor was seen in what appeared to be a Hindu temple with shoes on. Hindutva commentators deemed this offensive.

A piece by Daily O notes that the Bhatts have also been a frequent target of rightwing Twitter which claims that they support journalist Rana Ayyub – another salient target of rightwing online abuse – and that various members of the family are “anti-Hindu.”

As seen in the tweet above, Hindutva commentators, many with anonymous accounts, often claim that the Hindi film industry is run by Muslims, and pejorative hashtags like #urduwood often trend on social media. A video for The Wire by Saahil Murli Menghani analyses how false information is used to propagate communal claims against Muslims in the industry. Recently, Aamir Khan starrer Laal Singh Chaddah was made the target of such a campaign.

Amid the protests in Ujjain, Brahmastra film director Ayan Mukherjee was able to enter the temple and see the deity, temple priest Ashish Pujari told PTI.