KOLKATA: With the Supreme Court making it mandatory to play national anthem at theatres and necessitating all moviegoers to stand still and sing the song before watching movies at the cinema halls and multiplexes, Persons with Disabilities throughout Bengal fear they will be targeted for not being able to stand up for the national anthem.
“I can’t get up from my wheelchair, how can I stand up during the anthem,” said Rajesh Jain, a disabled person in Kolkata. Rajesh lost both his legs in an accident on Durgapur Expressway in 2010.
Disabled activist Salil Choudhary was kicked by a couple at a Panaji theatre in July. “Though people in Bengal are a bit more sensitive but don’t know how they will react to the national anthem, which is written by a Bengali and is in the Bengali language,” said Devshankar Haldar, a disabled person in Siliguri.
“Do I really need to prove my patriotism by singing and standing during national anthem,” he adds.
None of the disability rights activists have come openly against the ruling fearing contempt of court slapped against them.
“They should ensure barrier free environment in the cinema halls first, which is also our right as much as standing up in national anthem is our duty,” a Mumbai-based disability rights activist said on condition of anonymity.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Deepak Misra and Amitava Roy on Wednesday ruled that the cinema halls have to play the national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ before screening of movies. “It’s time people expressed their love for the motherland,” the bench had ruled.
The Bench said it is duty of all citizens to show respect when the national anthem is played or sung under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1951.
The bench was hearing a PIL by Shyam Narayan Chouskey of Bhopal who sought parameters to be set to what amounted to abuse of the anthem.