Malayalam actor Tovino Thomas said legal proceedings would be initiated against the group that allegedly vandalised a set of the film Minnal Murali in Kalady in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on Sunday night.
State chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned the incident and said strict action would taken against those responsible for it.
Their statements came after a church set built for the Tovino film was demolished by members of the Antharashtra Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, who claimed responsibility for it in a Facebook post.
A district level leader of the Rashtriya Bajrang Dal was arrested in connection with the case 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).
AHP’s general secretary Hari Palode had in a Facebook post praised and shared photos of members demolishing the set. “When they built such a structure in front of the Mahadeva shrine in Kalady, we said no. We had also submitted several complaints. We do not have the habit of pleading. We decided to demolish it. Our self respect must be protected at all cost,” he wrote, The NewsMinute quoted. As people replied to post denouncing this action, Palode said he wished they had set it on fire.
The film’s producer Sophia Paul said all necessary permission to build the set had been taken and called the incident “unfortunate and a colossal loss”.
“The set at Kalady was planned and built for one of our most important scene,” she said on Facebook.
Director Basil Joseph said, “At a time when everyone is fighting against this pandemic, when we are all helpless and should be standing together, we didn’t expect such things to happen, especially in our Kerala. I’m very sad and distressed.”
Joseph also shared photos of what the set had looked like.
Tovino said that the set had been built at considerable cost right before the lockdown was announced.
“It is during this prevailing uncertainty that this contractual set was destroyed by a group of racialists yesterday. The reasons they cite for this unceremonious act are not understood to our senses till now. We’ve heard of movie sets being vandalised by religious fanatics in Northern parts of India. Now, it’s happening to us right here.
It has caused us a lot of distress, and even more of anxiety. We have decided to go ahead with the legal proceedings,” he said on Facebook.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan was asked about the incident at a press conference at the state Secretariat on Monday morning. He said, “Kerala is not a place where communal forces can run loose. Strict action will be taken against those responsible for this.”