“Encouraging love jihad”: Netflix officials booked over temple kissing scene in Suitable Boy

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An FIR was registered in Madhya Pradesh on Monday, 23 November, against two executives of Netflix for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through its web series A Suitable Boy, which showed kissing scenes purportedly on the campus of a temple, an official said.

The FIR has named Monika Shergill, Vice President, Content (Netflix) and Ambika Khurana, Director, Public Policies (Netflix), Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said.

Meanwhile, collector of Khargone district Anugraha P told PTI that the controversial kissing scenes do not appear to have filmed inside a temple in Maheshwar town in the district.

Earlier in the day, Shergill and Khurana were booked by Rewa police on a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national secretary Gaurav Tiwari who demanded an apology from Netflix and the makers of the series, and removal of “objectionable scenes”, which he stated were also “encouraging love jihad.”

“I had asked officials to examine the series A Suitable Boy being streamed on Netflix to check if kissing scenes in it were filmed inside a temple and if it hurt religious sentiments. The examination prima facie found that these scenes are hurting the sentiments of a particular religion,” Mishra said in a video statement.

“On the basis of a complaint filed by Gaurav Tiwari, an FIR is being registered under section 295 (A) (malicious acts to outrage and insulting the religious feelings and beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in Rewa against Netflix officials- Monika Shergill and Ambika Khurana,” he added.

Rewa superintendent of police Rakesh Kumar Singh told reporters that the FIR has been registered and further investigation is underway.

On Saturday, Gaurav Tiwari had submitted a memorandum to the Rewa superintendent of police demanding an apology from Netflix and makers of the series, and removal of “objectionable scenes” from A Suitable Boy.

“Kissing scenes (filmed) inside a temple of Lord Maheshwar (a historic town located on the banks of Narmada in Madhya Pradesh) have hurt the sentiments of Hindus. This is also encouraging ”love jihad”,’ Tiwari had stated.

He had named Monika Shergill and Ambika Khurana in his complaint application.

The six-part Netflix series has been directed by renowned filmmaker Mira Nair, who is known for her critically-acclaimed films such as Salaam Bombay, Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake.

“We have not received any formal complaint so far regarding the controversy surrounding the Netflix series. But taking cognisance of media reports, I sent a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and tehsildar to the spot at Maheshwar. We have inspected the fort complex where the web series (A Suitable Boy) was shot.

“There are also temples in the huge fort complex on the banks of the Narmada River at Maheshwar. But according to the SDM report, at first glance, it seems the controversial kissing scenes were not filmed inside the temple. Probably these scenes were shot somewhere else in the fort complex,” the collector said.

She said a committee will be constituted to probe the matter in detail if the government orders so.

“As of now, the allegation has not been confirmed that the controversial kissing scenes of the web series were shot inside a temple in Maheshwar. However, if the state government orders us, we will constitute a committee to investigate the matter in detail and send a report,” the collector said.

She said the district administration had allowed the shooting of A Suitable Boy in Maheshwar during December last year.

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