Locals in India’s southern Kerala state have staged a protest against the detention of six students for allegedly disrespecting the national anthem.
At least six people, including a woman, were taken into custody on Monday (December 12) after they refused to stand during the national anthem which was played before screening of a film at the ongoing International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram city.
According to local media reports, they have refused to budge even when the policemen present at the hall requested them to stand up. The IFFK organisers and Director of Chalachitra Academy, Charmin Kamal, also asked them to stand, but they refused.
Holding placards in hands, locals held protests outside the venue of the film festival on Tuesday.
“They are students…police should have the discretion to at least talk to them, at least advice them and let them go. Registering a case is something very….we have very strict laws against nationalism. In case anybody does anything against our nation, but these children should not be categorised under that sections,” said a protester, Asha.
“We protested because this sort of surveillance is infringing our personal liberty,” she added.
Meanwhile, the students were released on bail on Tuesday.
Standing for the anthem in theatres has generated much debate and confusion with the opposing side arguing for specially-abled people and women with medical condition.
The Supreme Court, on November 30, made playing of the national anthem mandatory before movie screenings in theatres across the country which emphasised that everyone present in cinema theatres must stand to pay respect to the anthem.
In 1960s, Indian cinema halls used to play the national anthem after the movie, but people often walked out without waiting for the anthem to finish. The practice faded away over the years.
Western Maharashtra state made it compulsory in the year, 2003.