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Mumbai cops’ leave cancelled over security for SRK’s film

The stand-off between the Shiv Sena and Shah Rukh Khan may have faded away. But the trouble hasn’t ended for SRK’s new film, My Name is Khan, scheduled for release on Friday.

The Mumbai Police has cancelled all leave for its men so that five companies of the State Reserve Police Force can guard the 63 theatres in the city that will screen the film from attacks by the Shiv Sena.  Shah Rukh Khan’s security has also been increased.

Thirty Shiv Sainiks were arrested on Tuesday for protesting outside cinema halls in Bhandup and Mulund. Also, Shah Rukh Khan’s security has been increased.

The film’s director, Karan Johar, met the Mumbai Police Commissioner on Tuesday morning to discuss  security concerns based on the Shiv Sena’s opposition to the film. Representatives of the film’s distributor, FOX Searchlight, are also at the meeting along with the owners of some Mumbai multiplexes.

After the meeting, Johar said that the Mumbai police had reassured him that cinemas will get security for screenings of My Name is Khan.

“Frisking and checking will be done for everyone entering the film’s screenings. I don’t want to give details of police deployment or strategy in the regard,” Joint Commissioner of Police Himanshu Roy said while addressing a press conference in Mumbai after meeting Karan Johar.

The Shiv Sena has warned cinema owners not to screen the film. The Sena is upset with SRK for stating that Pakistani cricketers should be allowed to play in the next season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Despite the Sena’s threats, Shah Rukh Khan has refused to apologize for his statement. “What should I retract? That I am an Indian?” he asked. (Read and watch: I am a bloody good Indian: SRK)

In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Khan had also said that he has not sought time with either Bal or Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena to discuss his statement. (Read and watch: There is nothing to apologise for: SRK)

Uddhav Thackeray has said that while he has not ordered the Sena to disrupt screenings of My Name is Khan, he cannot stop party workers from “taking spontaneous action”.

Through the controversy, most Bollywood stars have remained silent on the issue. Salman Khan, whose rift with SRK has been acknowledged by both stars, spoke in favour of SRK.   Abhishek Bachchan also tweeted on the issue though his father, Amitabh Bachchan, blogged lavish praise on Bal Thackeray last week when the Sena-SRK war was at its peak. (Read and watch: As Sena targets SRK, Big B praises Thackeray)

SRK says that doesn’t bother him.  I never stood up for anybody, he said to NDTV, adding that “nobody in Bollywood is a coward” and that everyone in Bollywood “is vulnerable. (Watch: Will My Name Is Khan open on Friday in Mumbai?)

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