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Raising objections against Halal, an award-winning Marathi film based on a novel written by Rajan Khan, members of Awami Vikas Party (AVP) allegedly barged into the office of ‘Akshar Manav’, a social organisation, and defaced the posters of the film, in Shukrawar Peth area of Pune on Monday. Members of the AVP, a ‘political party’, also demanded an apology from Khan for “hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community”.  The movie is set to be released on October 6.

Akshar Manav is a social organisation that works for social equality, gender issues, agriculture, education, science, health and literature. Khan, the author of Halal, is associated with the organisation. Rajan Khan was not in office when the incident took place. Ashraf Wankar, president of the AVP’s west Maharashtra unit, later posted a video and photographs of the incident on his Facebook account.

Talking to The Indian Express, Wankar said, “The trailer of the movie is available on social media. We found it highly objectionable as it has wrongly portrayed the issues of triple talaq and other practices. The movie should not be screened as it hurts religious sentiments. We respect Rajan Khan, but condemn the movie. We tried to contact him repeatedly, but he did not respond to any of our calls. So, we went to his office and blackened the board and posters of the film”.

He added, “There were two woman staffers at the spot. We requested them politely to convey our message to Rajan Khan… that he should issue a public apology, else we will intensify our agitation… Wrong things in the name of Halal are rarely practiced in India. If Rajan Khan knows of any such incident… we request him to notify us and the community will take action against it. But there is no point in wrongly depicting these issues in a movie. We appeal to Khan to write and make films on serious issues such as farmer suicides, instead of issues that will trigger religious enmity…We are thinking about taking legal action against the movie.”

Members of the Awami Vikas Party deface the board of Akshar Manav, a social organisation, and posters of Halal film, in Pune on Monday

AVP is a “political party” launched by retired assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Shamsher Khan Pathan. Pathan, the national president of the party, congratulated Wankar on FB and said, “Good Work. I am with you all.”
As per details posted by Wankar on FB, he, along with AVP’s Sangli district president Jamir Sanadi, Pune district president Imtiyaz Sanadi, and the outfit’s members Mohsin Sanadi and Chandbhai Sayyad, also blackened the board of Khan’s office, alleging that the film had “wrongly” depicted Islamic traditions.

In the video that Wankar posted on social media, he is seen talking to a woman staffer in Akshar Manav’s office and then defacing the posters and the board of the social organisation. “… We do not want to create any religious dispute, but we want to say that the story of the movie wrongly portrays what Islam teaches us. We have been trying to call him (Khan) since morning, but he has not responded. As a public protest, we have blackened you board and posters. We want him to apologise to people and eventually the screening of the movie. If not, we will continue our agitation. Today, we have just blackened the board…”, said Wankar in the video.

Kavita Datir, the Pune head of Akshar Manav, told The Indian Express, “At about4 pm, seven to eight persons came to the office. They spoke to the office staff and inquired about Khan sir… they then blackened the board and posters. Khan sir is currently out of town, On Tuesday, we will take a call on how to approach police and take further action.”

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