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Padmaavat: Riots break out in India as protesters take to streets to oppose release of controversial Bollywood film

Riots broke out in India as protesters took the streets to oppose the release of controversial Bollywood film Padmaavat. 

Critics have accused the film’s director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, of distorting history after he portrayed a Hindu queen as having a Muslim lover. 

Television broadcast images showed shops being attacked by protesters in Rajasthan and people burning tyres and waving swords in Bihar.

Cinemas were also vandalised, vehicles burned and a school bus pelted with stones leading to disruption across the country. 

The majority of the opposition to the film comes from the Rajput community, where Padmavati is practically a deity. 

The protesters claim the film depicts the queen in a negative light as she is seen “flirting” with a sultan, while she is married to the king, which they argue is historically inaccurate. 

Experts are divided over whether the queen ever existed and the film’s makers say the story is based on mediaeval poem about the queen. 

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“If you have freedom of writers, freedom of expression, we too have freedom of protest,” Lokendra Singh Kalvi, head of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a conservative body, told Reuters.

The controversy has resulted in cinema owners in several states abandoning plans for screenings.

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