Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Filmmaker Prakash Jha was attacked on the sets of his latest series Ashram in Bhopal when a few Bajrang Dal activists threw ink on his face. One of the main accused among these, Sushil Sudele, is a convicted murderer and was able to procure bail in just one day after vandalising the sets, according to a report by NDTV.
Sushil Sudele, the regional head or Prant Pramukh of the Bhoapl unit of the Bajrang Dal was arrested with seven others after their attack on the sets of Ashram. All seven were released the next day. According to the police, this happened because the producers of the show were not keen on pressing any charges against the group. As a result of this, the charges against Sudele and his party were minor and bail was granted to them.
Sudele had been convicted of murder in 2014. He served time for the murder of Bhagchand, owner of Bhopal-based Gurukripa Travels. Sudele and five others were denied service by Bhagchand, following which, they murdered him on 5 February, 2011.
Sudele received bail one year later in 2015, along with Rajkumar Chourasiya, another accused. Today, Chourasiya works as the supervisor for the Bhopal Municipal Corporation while Sushil has been appointed as the central India convener for the Bajrang Dal.
Legal experts have suggested that given Sudele's record, his bail should have been denied immediately. The Congress has accused the BJP of sheltering criminals and claimed that Sudele enjoys immunity despite a murder charge because of his political connections.
Sudele has consistently been seen in pictures with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Home Minister Narottam Mishra, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, and other BJP and RSS leaders.
"Suresh Sudele organises the attacks and many including the state Home Minister praise him. He is on bail in a murder case. If the government will shelter such people who have broken laws then how will we build a film city and generate more employment? He should be sent to prison immediately, it's unfortunate that the state government is sheltering him," said PC Sharma, former state Law Minister and Congress leader to NDTV.
Narottam Mishra, in his comment about Ashram when the attack on Jha first occurred said how the show was an "attempt to deliberately target Hinduism". He also backed the group's demands to change the name of the web series.
"I also support this. Why is the web series named Ashram? They will understand (the consequences) if they name it (web series or stories) after others' (religion)? We consider the ransacking as wrong. Four persons were arrested and further legal steps will be taken. But, Jha saheb (Prakash Jha), think about your mistakes too," Mishra had said.
When asked about the incident, Sudele said, "We did not threaten Prakash Jha, it was a symbolic protest. Their bouncers from Bhopal attacked us first then this incident happened," in a statement to NDTV.
The incident has been captured on video where Sudele is seen bragging about throwing ink on Jha's face. He was also heard saying that they were looking for actor Bobby Deol, who plays the lead in the series.
(With inputs from NDTV).