Less than two months after a family was asked to leave a central Mumbai multiplex for allegedly refusing to stand up for the national anthem, another similar incident has surfaced. This time, the centre of public outrage was a Mumbai-based screenwriter Neeraj Pandey, who was kicked out of the theatre by fellow viewers for the same reason. 

He spent a better part of the evening at the police station.

b’Neeraj Pandey, being taken to the police station / Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/ankurpandey42?fref=ts’

The account of the incident on Tuesday evening was posted by Neeraj’s friend Ankur Pandey on Facebook, and has since been attracting strong reactions. 

According o a report in Scroll, Neeraj, along with two friends, went to watch the film Wazir at 8.15pm on Tuesday. When the national anthem played as is the custom before the movie, Neeraj did not stand up. He told Scroll that he never stood up for the anthem as he felt it was a matter of choice, and not compulsion.

However, it did not go down well with the audience and a woman in a row behind him screamed at him, followed by some men two tried to physically lift him up. 

“Let the national anthem get over and then we’ll take care of him,” someone allegedly told Neeraj. Neeraj claimed some 40 men crowded around him and started to abuse him, questioning his patriotism. The manager of the theatre then arrived.

“I almost felt like laughing…Everybody was shouting at each other in small groups but nobody was listening to each other. I was like, yaar, decide karo, jaana hai ki nahi. [Decide whether I am supposed to go or not].” Neeraj told Scroll.

Someone, in the meanwhile, called the police.

The Dindoshi police took Neeraj away to the shouts of ‘Bharat mata ki jai”.

Fortunately for Neeraj and his friends, the police resolved the issue amiably, post which the theatre manager gave the three friends, and the police station house officer, tickets for the same movie the next day.