A television journalist in Hyderabad helped in the arrest of two men from a movie theatre on Saturday for not standing up while the national anthem was played — made mandatory by the Supreme Court last year to instil a sense of patriotism among Indians.
Syed Shafi Hussain and Mohammed Ilyas were arrested from the INOX at Maheshwari Parmeshwari Mall in Kachiguda by the Sultan Bazaar police, and a case under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, was registered against them for remaining seated during the national anthem at a screening of the Telugu movie 'Chitrangada', Inspector P Shiva Shankar Rao was quoted as saying by Telangana Today.
The apex court had ruled in November last year that all cinemas must play the anthem before screening movies and audiences must stand while it played, leading to a public outcry over judicial overreach into civil liberties. Several people have been arrested for not standing up during the national anthem, and the move has enabled vigilantism in public spaces. A disabled man was even assaulted at a cinema hall by a couple who failed to notice that he was in a wheelchair.
The court later clarified that standing up will not be necessary if the anthem is played in the middle of a film, as part of its storyline. The Union Home Ministry has issued guidelines on how differently-abled people should conduct themselves when the anthem is being played in public places or at cinema theatres.
A. Sampath, the journalist who reported the incident to the police, shot a video of the two being seated, according to the report. Sampath told Scroll.in he felt "really annoyed" when the two did not stand up even when he asked them to.
Hussain told Scroll he had sprained his leg and though he was about to stand up, he heard someone shouting "arrey... arrey" behind him. "When I heard him shout, I was really annoyed and didn't stand," he said.
"I just want to know this, if it is punishable to not stand up during the national anthem, then shouting during the national anthem should also be a crime, right," he was quoted as saying. He also alleged that the police threatened his brother and he himself was made to sit at the police station for more than three hours.