CHENNAI: Three people who did not stand up when the national anthem was played during the Chennai Film Festival were booked by the police under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. They were also forced to leave the theater immediately.
M Shreela, 27, a final year law student, was also one of the eight persons similarly booked by the police for not standing when national anthem was played at Kasi Theater last December 11. On Wednesday, Shreela and her mother Subashree, were at the Palazzo in the Forum Mall at Vadapalani to watch 12 noon show of the Bulgarian Movie, 'Glory', which was screened as part of the ongoing Chennai Film Festival.
As both of them did not stand up when the anthem was played, the staff of the organisers questioned them. Even as an argument broke, a few audience in the theater pointed out that another person Bejon K Vinod, 22, from Kerala, also did not stand up for the anthem.
“Immediately, the staff held me by my shirt collar and asked me to return my identity card (given for visitors of the film festival). However, I refused and demanded to watch the movie and asked the people to screen the film. Then I moved to sit next to Shreela and her mother to watch the movie. Ten minutes later, two police personnel came and took us to the Vadapalani Police Station. Meanwhile, a few other people who were also watching the movie supported us and told the police that it was at discretion to decide whether to stand up for the national anthem or not, which went unheard. The three of us along with few others reached the Vadapalani Station, where a case was registered against us,” said Bejon K Vinod.
"I think such things cannot be imposed on people. It is a matter of personal wish," Shreela told Express when waiting outside the Vadapalani Police Station.
A few minutes later, she, her mother and Bejon K Vinod were booked under section 3 of the National Anthem Honour Act 1971 based on the complaint of the film festival organisers.
The section reads, " Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. "
They were released by on bail by the police.
Shreela was similarly booked on December 11 when she and seven of her friends did not stand up for the anthem at Kasi Theatre before screening of a movie and were manhandled by another group.