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Saturday, July 18, 1998 Published at 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK


World: South Asia

Gandhi play banned

Protesters burnt leaflets about the play outside the theatre

The government of Maharashtra has banned a play about Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, Nathuram Godse, currently on stage in Bombay.

The state's chief minister, Manohar Joshi, said the decision was taken following advice from the central government.

He said his administration wanted to avert any fallout on law and order in Maharashtra and did not want anyone to harm Gandhi's memory.

Violent protest

The announcement comes after police broke up a violent protest demanding an end to the showing of the play.


[ image: Mahatma Gandhi - still revered in India]
Mahatma Gandhi - still revered in India
The demonstrators said it denigrated Gandhi by glorifying the gunman who killed him.

About 200 protesters blocked the Shivaji Mandir Auditorium in Dadar and smashed the windows of some buses near the theatre.

Some of the demonstrators received minor injuries in the police charge that followed.

But the protest succeeded where the advice of the government had previously failed in getting the play off the stage.

The producers indefinitely called off performances of the piece, which had been playing to packed houses.

On Thursday, MPs called for the administrators of Maharashtra state to ban the play.

Gandhi's killer explored

The play, 'Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy, or 'I am Nathuram Godse Speaking', has been criticised for glorifying Gandhi's killer.

Gandhi, known as the Mahatma or "great soul", was killed at a prayer meeting on 30 January 1948, sending waves of revulsion through the country.

Generations of Indians have grown up reviling his assassin.

The play focuses on the views of the killer, and detractors say it paints a favourable and heroic picture of him.

Godse, a Hindu fanatic, was hanged for Gandhi's assassination five months after independence from Britain.

The play was first performed three months ago, and had a run of 70 shows in the western state of Gujarat, where Gandhi was born.



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