Kerala Police on May 25 arrested a district-level leader of Antharashtra Bajrang Dal, one of the two fringe Hindu outfits who vandalized a Malayalam film set in Kalady, Kerala on Sunday. The set built in the shape of a church was demolished by, members of right-wing Hindu groups, Antharashtra Hindu Parishad (AHP) and Antharashtra Bajrang Dal.
The leader has been charged under various sections of the IPC, including 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), reported The News Minute.
The Basil Joseph directed film starring Actor Tovino Thomas had erected the set for his film "Minnal Murali" on the banks Periyar river worth in March to shoot the climax scenes of the film. However, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the crew had to suspend the shooting of the film till further notice.
The incident came to light when Hari Palode, general secretary of the right-wing outfit Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) admitted on Facebook that his group along with Bajrang Dal members demolished the set because it stood opposite the Shiv temple at Kalady. "When they were building the set we had objected. We had even submitted complaints. We don't have a habit of pleading so we decided to demolish it. We have to protect our self-respect," had written Palode on his Facebook post.
Such an act of violence was widely condemned by the Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan who while assuring that strong action will be taken against the culprits also emphasized that Kerala is not a place for communal forces to thrive.
"The reasons they cite for this unceremonious act are not understood to our senses till now. We've heard of movie sets being vandalized by religious fanatics in northern parts of India. Now it's happening to us right here." Tweeted Tovino Thomas.
Expressing his anguish and outrage over the alleged incident, Director Basil Joseph took to Facebook to write a post, "For some people, it could be a joke, troll, publicity or politics. For us, it was a dream. The set was erected just before the lockdown. We had been working for two years to realise the movie. The art director and team struggled under the hot sun for many days to build the set, for which the hard-earned money of the producer was spent. It was built after getting all requisite permissions. The atrocity has happened at a time when everyone must stand united. I never expected this to happen in Kerala. I am shocked".