Shiv Sena party activists vandalise a poster of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's new film My Name is Khan in Mumbai on Tuesday. Image Credit: AP

Mumbai: The city police has decided to provide heavy security at 63 theatres across Mumbai after Shiv Sena workers attacked cinema halls in the eastern suburbs where the film My Name Is Khan is to be released on Friday.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Tuesday stated the government will ensure that the film is released and that the distributors and exhibitors are provided security all over Maharashtra.

The attack has prompted the government to deploy five companies of Reserve Police and cancel the leaves of policemen for the security during the release.

Police arrested nearly 40 activists of Shiv Sena who were protesting on Tuesday afternoon over the advance booking of the film.

The Sena chief Bal Thackeray had said his party would not allow the screening of the film until Shah Rukh Khan apologises for taking up the cause of Pakistani cricketers participating in the Indian Premier League.

The attacks have come in spite of the Sena stating in its newspaper Saamna that the party would not oppose the release of the film.

However, just an hour or so after Mumbai Police gave assurances on providing security, Sena activists pelted stones at Mehul cinema in Ghatkopar and several gathered outside Huma Cinema at Kanjurmarg and R-City Mall in Ghatkopar, shouting slogans against Khan and the movie.

When multiplex owners and the movie's director Karan Johar met Commissioner of Police D Sivanandan earlier in the day, they were promised police constables would be posted at the theatres during the release.

Johar told reporters that the police chief had given assurance that security would be provided at every location while Vishal Kapur, COO, Fun Cinemas, said helplines would be established to inform the police of any untoward happening.

He also said advance booking was open all through the country and the response was good though it was fair in Mumbai. To avoid any disruptions, most theatres did not put up posters of the film.

After the meeting with Johar and theatre owners, Himanshu Roy, Joint Commissioner of Police, said, "Their concern was that there are some political parties suggesting that the film be banned or not be released. They told us they have received some calls in this regard. Therefore, security may be provided to some people."

If required, viewers may be asked to produce their identity cards before entering the theatres though a final decision has not been taken, Roy said.

War of words

The Shiv Sena again hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi yesterday, this time for referring to Mumbai as Bombay in a speech before students during his four-hour trip here last week.

Rahul Gandhi, who challenged the Shiv Sena in its own turf by his hugely successful visit in which he travelled by local trains, had mentioned Bombay several times in his opening remarks at a speech in Bhaidas Hall, according to the videotapes of the function telecast on some television channels.

By doing so, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray said in yesterday's issue of Saamna, Rahul Gandhi had sought to rub salt and deprive Maharashtrians their right over Mumbai.

"Those people who want to break off Mumbai from Maharashtra always refer to the city as Bombay," Thackeray said in the edit.

He added that Rahul Gandhi could say this only because he was given protection by over 22,000 policemen on his trip, his footwear picked up by Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe and Chief Minister Ashok Chavan doing the duty of a sentry.

"After all this, Rahul blatantly lied that only 10-15 people opposed his trip, the rest of Mumbai was supporting him," he pointed out, adding that scores of Shiv Sainiks were detained the night before Rahul Gandhi's arrival and over 500 arrested for showing him black flags during the trip.

"What kind of macho he displayed by moving around the city surrounded by a posse of armed commandoes?" demanded Thackeray.

The edit said that Congress needs security for its meetings and funerals. Rahul Gandhi's trip would prove to be the last journey of the Congress — for which it would again need police protection, he said.