Chennai, Jan 31 : Dismissing all allegations of her role in scuttling Actor Kamal Hassan's 'Vishwaroopam,' Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, denying any personal grudge against the thespian, today said the prime concern in banning the film under Sec 144 Cr Pc was maintenance of law and order as the film's release would have led to violence for which she would have been held responsible.
Addressing the press here, Ms Jayalalithaa, narrating the sequence of events leading to the ban on the film, said had the actor initially allowed the screening of the movie to the representatives of various Muslim organisations the present situation would have been avoided. She said after Mr Kamal Hassan announced the film's release, a federation, comprising 24 Muslim organisations, met the Chief Secretary some time ago seeking to view the film before it hit the theatres.
The Chief Secretary forward this to the Home Secretary and a request was made Mr Hassan to screen the movie for them. "If he had done it at that time itself, the present situation would have been avoided," she said. After this, Mr Hassan called the Muslim representatives for screening the film but did not do so saying the film's release was delayed.
Ms Jayalalithaa said the film's release was again delayed due to theatre owners objecting to its broadcase on DTH platform. "Finally, when it was announced the film would hit the screens on January 25, the movie was screened to the Muslim organisations on January 22 after which they met the Home Secretary the next day and demanded a total ban on the film on the ground it contained some objecitonable scenes.
The Muslim organisations also announced a series of agitations, demonstrations and protests at various places and also said they would hold demonstrations in each of the 524 theatres where the film was scheduled for release on January 25. "After this, the government held discussions at the highest level and took all these aspects into consideration, weighed the pros and cons before deciding to ban the film under Sec 144 Cr Pc," she added. If the government had allowed the film to be screened despite intelligence inputs warning of violence, the subsequent violence could not have been handled by the government or the police.
"If we allowed this to occur, police should resort to lathi charge, bursting of tear gas shells and firing of water cannons. If this happened, the same media and political parties would have jumped to the other side and said the government was unleashing repressive measures against a particular community."
Ms Jayalalithaa said at that time Mr Kamal Hassan was not prepared to effect even a single cut. "In order to maintain public peace and to preserve law and order and to prevent the outbreak of uncontrollable violence,the government has no other option but to issue orders under Sec 144 Cr Pc by the District Collectors using their powers. Ms Jayalalithaa said there were 524 theatres which were to screen the film for which it would require over 30,000 police to provide security.
This is practically and physically not possible. Observing the ban under this section was only for 15 days, Ms Jayalalithaa said she had no personal intention in banning the film. If the government wanted to really ban the film, it could have done so using Sec 7 of the Tamil Nadu Cinemas Regulation Act 1955 which empowers the government to ban a film if it feels there were sufficient reasons for it to do so. She pointed out using this section, the film Dam 999 was banned in the State and it was upheld by the Supreme Court. Had Mr Kamal Hassan approached the government and sought recourse following the ban, the government would have facilitated dialogue with the Muslim organisations.
But he chose to move the Madras High Court by filing a writ petition, she said adding it was ridiculous to blame her for the ban. Even now if Mr Kamal Hassan was prepared to sit and talk with the Muslim organisations and agree to delete the objectionable scenes, the government would do everything possible to facilitate this and clear the decks for the film's release.
Ms Jayalalithaa said assuming that film is allowed to be screened in all 524 theatres amid reports of possibility of violence taking place around these theatres, the only way was to provide police protection to all these theatres. "Whether it is practically and physically possible with the minimum police personnel is to be pondered with", she added. She said maintaining of law and order was not allowing a situation to turn violent or violence to take place and then stepping in to quell violence and resotre peace.
"Especially, when we have a limited police force, the alternative option for the government is to take preventive action to ease the situation", she said, adding, the sensible way was to maintain law and order and public peace., "Under such circumstances, the duty of the government was to take preventive action and in that spirit we approached the film", she added.