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Bajrang Dal activists manhandle director Prakash Jha on Aashram 3 set

The extremist group stopped shooting for the third season of the popular web-series and announced that it would not be allowed to resume till the title was changed.

Our Correspondent

Members of the right-wing extremist group Bajrang Dal, an affiliate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), attacked and beat up National award-winning director Prakash Jha and damaged the sets of his popular web-series Aashram in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, on Sunday. Videos shot by witnesses on cell phones show the extremists chasing and beating up members of the crew.

The group claimed that Jha's series was an 'assault on Hinduism' and would not be allowed to continue filming till a change in the title is announced.

Jha, who reportedly had ink thrown at him, has not yet lodged a police complaint. The website NDTV.com quoted a Bajrang Dal representative as claiming that the filmmaker had promised to change the title of the web-series.

Speaking to the television channel NDTV, Sushil Surhele of the Bajrang Dal said, "They made Aashram 1, Aashram 2 and were shooting for Aashram 3 here. Prakash Jha showed in Aashram that the guru was abusing women. Does he have the guts to make such a film on a church or madrasa? Who does he think he is?

"Bajrang Dal challenges him, we won't let him make this film. So far we have just blackened Prakash Jha's face. We are looking for Bobby Deol. He should learn something from his brother [BJP member of Parliament Sunny Deol]. He made such patriotic movies."

The incident was condemned by some members of the film industry, notably directors Hansal Mehta, Sanjay Gupta and Sudhir Mishra.

The Producers' Guild of India issued an official statement condemning the incident and demanding action against the perpetrators. 

NDTV.com quoted senior police officer Irshad Wali as saying, "Action will be taken against those who disrupted the shooting and vandalized property today itself" and "anti-social elements ransacked vehicles [and] created trouble. Crew members of Aashram will be given full security and it will be ensured this does not happen again."

There have been previous incidents of directors being attacked on sets, notably during the filming of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat (2018) and Hansal Mehta's Shahid (2013).

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