A pro-Kannada group's leader threatened to commit suicide on 31 December if Sunny Leone performed in Bengaluru for a new year bash, and instead of coming down heavily on him for holding a citizen's personal freedom to ransom, the government banned the actress from participating in that show in the state.
Harish, the president of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Yuva Sene, told India Today that the group was "against Sunny wearing short clothes."
"If she wears saree and takes part in the event, even we'll go watch her. Sunny doesn't have a good past. We shouldn't be encouraging such people. We will not hesitate to commit suicide on December 31," he said.
Leone worked in pornographic films in Canada before she moved to India to appear in a reality TV show and eventually work in Indian films. She's even acted in a Kannada movie. Why the length of her clothes is any of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Yuva Sene's business is unclear. However, what is clear is that in a country under the central rule of a Hindu right wing party, such diktats have become increasingly easy to enforce with little retributive action from law-keeping agencies.
"If she wears saree and takes part in the event, even we'll go watch her. Sunny doesn't have a good past."
As was witnessed in the Padmavati film controversy, threats of violence are enough to bring a state to its heels and concede ground to anyone holding the state to ransom under the pretext of hurt religious sentiments. Often authorities enforce pre-emptive censorship rather than risking loss to life and property.
No one yet knows what the format of Leone's show will be, but home minister R Ramalinga Reddy told TOI the state has "denied permission fearing law and order problems in the wake of protests by pro-Kannada outfits".
"Don't bring her here. People are opposed to the event. Let them (organisers) organise events related to Kannada culture and literature, which is our heritage," Reddy told PTI.
Activists have claimed that Leone's show on 31 December would be an "assault on the Bengaluru's culture". Leone's effigies were also burnt in the state.
Obviously, the group sees it as a victory.
"It is a victory for us. Government has cancelled the programme. Had it happened here, we would have brought activists from 20 districts to Bengaluru and held a mega protest here," Harish told PTI.
The event, 'Sunny Night in Bengaluru NYE 2018', was to be held at White Orchid convention centre in the city, TOI reported.