Days after the Supreme Court directed cinema halls across the country to play the National Anthem in theatres before the commencement of films, a minor scuffle broke out in a Chennai theatre allegedly over the issue of standing for the Anthem.
A group of seven people was allegedly assaulted by another group in Chennai's Kasi Theatre, after they refused to stand up for the National Anthem.
Speaking to The News Minute, Leenus – one of the seven people – said that the incident occurred at the time of the 11.30am show in the theatre situated in Chennai's Eekkaaduthangal. The group of seven – including three girls – had gone to watch the film "Chennai 28". The seven youths, all students of various colleges in the city, are reportedly members of an organisation called CPI (ML) RESIST, according to Kannan, another member of the organisation.
"We strongly believe that a cinema hall is not the place to play National Anthem and mandatorily ask everyone to stand up for it. We had already decided that we wouldn't do so," Leenus said.
According to Leenus, there were no signs of trouble at the beginning. The group was seated on the 8th row from the front. But a few minutes into the film, Leenus alleged, around eight people sitting behind them began to pass lewd comments about them.
"They began to pass nasty comments and started verbally abusing us. We did ignore it for sometime. But then it was during the interval that they came up to us and picked up a fight. When we argued back saying that it was our right whether to stand up or not, they began hitting us," Leenus alleged.
Leenus said that some others in the theatre also took the side of the group abusing them.
The manager of the theatre then intervened and tried to pacify them.
"He asked us to go out of the theatre with him, but we refused. We maintained that we will only go out once the film ends. By the time we got out of the theatre, many people who had abused us had already left. But three others came up to us and got into a scuffle again. They hit us in front of the police who were on patrol duty. They threatened to hit and kill us, if we ever do so again," Leenus said.
The News Minute was not able to independently verify the details of the scuffle in the theatre.
When TNM reached out to an Assistant Commissioner of the Chennai police, he said that the police is investigating the matter, but refused to give any more details.