Amalraj Peter Dasan, 59, was assaulted for not rising when the Jana Gana Mana tune was being played in a scene from Dangal (he did rise for the anthem before the start of the movie)
Munish Pandey (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 23, 2017)

In a sad reflection of the times we live in, an elderly man from Goregaon was punched in the face by a drunk at a cinema hall on Wednesday evening, after he didn't rise for the national anthem tune that was being played in one of the scenes of the movie Dangal. The victim, Amalraj Peter Dasan, 59, had dutifully risen for the national anthem before the start of the movie. He and his wife have been left so traumatised by the incident that he requested Mumbai Mirror to appeal, on his behalf, to all actors, producers, and the Censor Board to alert the audience if there were scenes related to the national anthem.

The accused, Shirish Madhukar, 52, has been booked under the Indian Penal Code sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (insult with intention to provoke breach of peace) by the Goregaon police. An officer from Goregaon Police Station said Madhukar told the cops he had consumed alcohol before he arrived for the movie, and was “taken over by patriotic zeal that reflected in the movie“. Madhukar was detained for a few hours after the incident.

Recalling his trauma, Dasan said he had gone for a 7.30 pm show of Dangal, and ironically, he and his wife were the only ones rising for the national anthem before the start of the movie as the hall was empty. “It was the scene where the protagonist's daughter wins the gold medal and the national anthem's tune is being played in the background. Suddenly, a man who was obviously very drunk, started screaming at everyone. He was shouting filthiest of abuses and asking people to stand up,“ Dasan said, adding the commotion took him completely by surprise.

“I didn't realise he was demanding that people rise to the national anthem tune. Before I could react, he landed a punch on my cheek. My wife was horrified as I took a few seconds to recover from the blow. By this time, the movie hall's security managed to pin him down and the cops took him away,“ Dasan said.

Angry and humiliated that his patriotism was questioned, Dasan, who works for a private firm, said, “I didn't know the movie's plot. How was I to know the national anthem would be played in the background in one of the scenes? Today it is me, tomorrow another unsuspecting movie-goer will be assaulted by an overzealous 'patriot',“ he said.

He said that he didn't want his attacker punished anymore as he would have learnt his lesson, but he said there has to be a mechanism to protect people. “Mr Aamir Khan or the Censor Board should put an alert before the scene. We live in the times when people don't think twice before assaulting anyone, be it women or senior citizens,“ Dasan said.

Aamir Khan, who himself was at the receiving end of misplaced patriotism when he spoke about society living in fear a few months ago, did not respond to a communication sent to him and his production house. The Goregaon police said investigation will continue, even as police sources said Dasan and his family have decided to 'forgive' the accused, Madhukar. “The accused appeared extremely remorseful, saying he was swayed by alcohol and emotions. A non-cognisable complaint has been registered,“ a source from Goregaon Police Station said.

You don't need to rise for anthem during movie scenes: MHA
In a circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs last year to all government agencies, it said: “Whenever the national anthem is sung or played, the audience shall rise to attention. However, when in the course of a newsreel or documentary, anthem is played as a part of the film, it is not expected of the audience to stand as standing is bound to interrupt the exhibition of the film and would bring in disorder and confusion rather than add to the dignity of the anthem.“