A group of youngsters who did not stand up when the national anthem was being played in a cinema theatre in Chennai were allegedly manhandled by another group of audience on Sunday.
The Supreme Court in its order dated November 30 mandated playing of the national anthem before screening of movies in all theatres across the country and the audience must stand up in respect. Amidst much debate over the contentious order of the apex court, a group of eight youngsters, mostly students and recent graduates, remained seated when the national anthem was being played before the morning show of Chennai 28 – II in the Kasi Theatre located at Ekkatuthangal, in the heart of the city.
The trouble began during the interval when one Vijayakumar picked up an argument with the youngsters questioning why they remained seated when the national anthem was played.
“During the interval, Vijayakumar caught my T-shirt and hit me from behind. He along with twenty others questioned why we did not stand for the anthem. He was threatening to kill us for not standing up for national anthem,” said S Viji, 26, a freelancing movie reviewer.
Sabaratha, 21, who was one among the eight youngsters, said they decided to not to stand up not because they are unpatriotic, but were against imposing such things.
The theatre officials intervened during and a security guard stayed behind in the theatre, throughout the show. But an argument broke out
again in the parking lot after the show ended.
Allegedly, both the sides exchanged blows during the heated argument.
When Express spoke to Vijayakumar, the person whom the youngsters accused of assaulting them, he said the group of eight were taking selfies, clapping and whistling when the anthem was played. “Angered by this, along with around twenty others in the theater, I questioned the group during the interval. And a verbal fight erupted. Immediately the manger from the theater pacified us and we continued watching the movie along with a security guard,” said a 28-year old Vijayakumar.
He said it was the other group that approached him and asked him to come near the theatre’s entrance to talk after film was over. “As soon as we went, they assaulted us and we hit them back. By then the police intervened,” he added.
Both the groups were taken to the MGR Police station and they filed counter complaints against each other. It is not clear yet how many FIRs police have filed, based on the complaints.