Panaji: The atmosphere in cinema halls, where sometimes patrons are under the influence of alcohol, is not ideal for playing the national anthem, says Salil Chaturvedi, a paraplegic, who was assaulted in a Goa movie hall recently for not standing at attention when the national anthem was being played.
Chaturvedi, who was at Inox multiplex in Panaji, along with his wife and a friend to watch Rajnikanth’s ‘Kabali’ in July, was attacked by another movie-goer couple for not standing when the national anthem was being played.
The incident was highlighted publicly by a friend earlier this week, following which Chaturvedi’s plight has received nationwide media attention.
“A person sings the national anthem with pride. There should be a proper atmosphere to sing it. In the evening, when we go to a cinema hall to celebrate, why should this alone be an opportunity to show how much we love our country. Some people drink too when they attend evening shows, so it is not right to sing a national anthem in such circumstances. Everything has its own place,” says Chaturvedi, whose father was an officer in the armed forces.
Chaturvedi said that he developed his handicap after a road accident, which irreversibly hurt his spine.
Recounting the incident to reporters here, he said that he was hit on the back of his head, when the national anthem started playing in the movie hall.
“Just before the movie started, they played the national anthem in the theatre. Obviously I could not get up. I was seated in my seat and not my wheel chair because I was carried to my seat. And this couple behind me, they were singing national anthem quite proudly and quite well. Suddenly I was hit on the back of my head by the man,” Chaturvedi said.
It was only when the couple was convinced of his physical disabilities, that they relented.
Such assaults, Chaturvedi said, would develop an aversion in the disabled population when it comes to sharing public spaces.
“First of all, those who are disabled, they already have trouble stepping out because, it is difficult to find disabled-friendly places in Goa. They will be scared to step out in such places, for fear of being attacked. Their freedom will be curbed,” he said.
“Everything has its own place. Is it possible that one goes to a restaurant before you are served, you will have to sing a national anthem? Or before withdrawing money from an ATM to show how much you love the country,” he wondered.