Vishwaroopam ban row: Jaya slams allegations of vendetta

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J Jayalalithaa
Chennai, Jan 31: "Kamal Haasan is not my enemy in any way and if I really wanted a ban on the film I could have banned it straight away...but we did not do that. That should prove it is not political vendetta," Tamil Nadu chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said today.

"We prohibited the release of the film under section 144 to allow tempers to cool down," she said at a press conference called to clear what she called 'many misconceptions' on ban of Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu.

She blamed Haasan for antagonizing the Muslim group's leaders by not showing them the film earlier. He had also postponed the screening of the film.

She refuted the allegation that she held any personal grudge against the actor-director.

"If he wants a 'veshti clad' man to become Prime Minister then that is his opinion and he is free to air it...I have also been in politics long enough to know that it is not Kamal Haasan who chooses the Prime Minister of the nation," she said.

On the actor's confession that he would go bankrupt he the film was not released she said "Kamal Haasan is nearing 60 years old. What he has done is to take a calculated risk. If he has taken a decision to make a film with a mega budget that is his decision."

No business interest

"I have been accused of having a personal motive in this and some business interests in a private television channel, she said.

"Jaya TV is a channel that supports the AIADMK. However, I do not own the channel...I have nothing to do with Jaya TV," she said, calling it a "wild reckless charge".

She made it clear that "we will consider legal action against those who have made these allegations."

Jayalalithaa said that films didn't interest her anymore and she had no idea about Vishwaroopam.

"The Muslim leaders protesting against the film have not met me so far and I have not met them," she said.

She informed that "the screening of the film was done for the Muslim group leaders also at the behest of the government."

"After watching the film they told the Chief Secretary that they wanted the film banned," she said.

Muslim groups had threatened to hold protests outside each theater and no government would have been able to handle such widespread violence. Many Muslim groups had submitted a memorandum to the government and had demanded a ban on the film, she said.

"The groups had organised protests in various places. There was every apprehension these protests could get violent.. Intelligence inputs had been received about violence and the only way to release the film would be to provide police protection to all 500 theatres," she said.

Went by intelligence report

According to the chief minister "If there are intelligence reports that tell us there are going to be incidents of violence is then the police can take preventive action."

She said it was not practical to have gone against intelligence reports, refuting allegations that there were motives behind the government action.

Not enough force for protection

At the outset she justified the 'ban' saying that there was not enough police force to offer protection against Muslim organisations' protest.

"There are regular duties of the police...Assuming we had permitted the release of the film in 524 theatres the available police force to provide protection is around 9000. Is this adequate? It is not," the Chief Minister said. The manpower required for 524 theatres was around 31,000 police personnel, she said.

"In sensitive areas at least 10 pickets would have been needed," she said.

We would have needed 56,000 police personnel for the guarding of theatres, Jayalalithaa said.

"I would like you to understand what is the meaning of maintaining law and order. It doesn't mean allowing a situation to turn violent and then stepping in to restore peace," she said.

If the film had been screened and the government had failed to curb the widespread violence or taken action against Muslim agitators then it would have been blamed for being insensitive, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said.

Ready to help

"Kamal Haasan at the time was not prepared to make a single cut in the film. In order to preserve law and peace the state government had no other option but to issue orders under section 144...This was only for 15 days," Jayalalithaa said.

Kamal Haasan could have approached the government at the stage and we could have facilitated a dialogue with Muslim groups but instead he chose to go to the high court, she said.

Jayalalithaa said Muslim groups have told her that Kamal Haasan has decided to make some cuts to the film and they were more amenable to allowing the film to release in that case.

"If the leaders of the Muslim organisation and Kamal Haasan can work out an amicable agreement then the state government will do everything to facilitate that," she said.

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