Bengaluru: A fortnight after a group of movie-goers was heckled for not standing up for the national anthem, the Bengaluru Police on Thursday filed a suo moto case against them. However, the Subramanya Nagar police have not named any accused in the FIR.
According to the FIR, the police registered a suo moto case under The Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1971.
As per an earlier Supreme Court order, it is not mandatory to stand during the national anthem, if it is being played inside a cinema hall.
The incident occurred on October 23 at the city’s PVR Orion Mall during the screening of Tamil movie, Asuran. A video, shared widely on social media, showed a bunch of moviegoers led by Kannada actor Arun Gowda shaming two men and two women and calling them “Pakistani terrorists” for “not sparing 52 seconds for the country”. Gowda is seen talking to the camera, pointing out those who had failed to stand up.
The video was shared by Kannada actress BV Aishwarya in a Facebook post but was later taken down.
“Not able to spare 52 seconds for the country, but you have the audacity to sit here and watch a three-hour movie? Are you Pakistani terrorists?” a man is heard saying on video.
Gowda also pointed at the group and was seen saying to the camera, “When the nation anthem came on, these guys didn’t stand. Look at these guys... look at their faces once again. They are telling us to file a complaint,” he said as he continued to shoot the video.
As the argument went on, another man was heard telling the four people, “Our soldiers are fighting for us in Kashmir and you guys are sitting here and don’t even stand for the national anthem. Get out of this place.”
However, Gowda on Thursday denied that he had heckled the movie-goers. "Whatever we have done, we have done peacefully. There is a video of this also. I was the one shouting: 'please, let us not manhandle them'," he said.
On the suo moto FIR filed against the movie-goers, Gowda said, "The police are doing their duty. It is shameful that we are discussing this topic as Indian citizens. The national anthem is our pride. People have sacrificed [for the nation] and now we have come to a situation where we are discussing whether to sit or stand for the national anthem."
In May, 29-year-old man from Bengaluru was arrested after he refused to stand up while the national anthem was playing. In a Twitter post, the resident of Sanjaynagar, wrote about being attacked by a mob at an INOX movie theatre after he had remained seated during the anthem. "I was assaulted and harassed by thugs at an INOX Movies theatre," he wrote.