Activists from a hardline Hindu right wing organisation on Sunday attacked the set of Aashram and smeared black ink on Indian film director Prakash Jha, claiming that the web series was “offensive to Hinduism.”
The violent incident occurred in the city of Bhopal while Jha was shooting scenes for the third season over the weekend, when Bajrang Dal workers attacked the set, saying the web series hurt the Hindu community’s sentiments. Aashram 3 stars Bollywood actors Bobby Deol, Chandan Roy Sanyal, and Aaditi Pohankar, among others.
The plot follows Baba Nirala (Deol’s character), a godman who becomes ruthless in his attempt to gain power and relies on corrupt politicians for cover as he preys on innocent women who seek deliverance.
In a video of the incident that emerged on social media, activists can be seen vandalising the set by breaking windshields of buses and assaulting crew members.
Bajrang Dal leader Sushil Sudele told News18: “They made Aashram 1, Aashram 2 and were shooting Aashram 3 here. Prakash Jha showed in Aashram that the guru was abusing women. Does he have the guts to make such a film on a church or madrasa? Who does he think he is?”
Superintendent of police Sai Krishna Thota said no person has been arrested so far.
“Prakash Jha wrongly portrayed the arrangements in a Hindu ashram in its previous seasons by showing the exploitation of women by gurus,” Sudele added. “There have been ashrams in Sanatan dharma since the past thousand years that played an important role in building social values. There is no truth in what has been shown in this web series.”
“Sanatan dharma” refers to an eternal framework of religious duties incumbent upon all Hindus.
The politician also mentioned that his organisation is “searching for actor Bobby Deol who should learn from his elder brother Sunny Deol (Bollywood actor and a politician), who has [previously] played roles in patriotic movies.”
Former parliamentarian Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar called out the Bajrang Dal for their actions on Jha’s set.
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He tweeted: “I most strongly condemn the Bajrang Dal for attacking the Cine producer Mr Prakash Jha in Bhopal on the sets of Aashram 3, and spreading ink on his shirt.”
“This is a law of jungle. The govt must take a stern action against the culprits,” added Mungekar.
“All the miscreants have been shunned from the premises and no one has been fatally injured, though some vehicles have been damaged. Further action will be taken against those responsible,” Irshad Wali, Deputy Inspector General of Bhopal, was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2018 classified Bajrang Dal as a militant religious outfit in their World Factbook, according to Indian media reports. The hardline Hindu outfit is known for policing content and activities it sees as creeping Western influence and a threat to Hinduism.
The Independent has contacted Deol’s team for comment.
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