| Mani Ratnam
Mumbai, Jan. 16: Bollywood was today taken aback as news of director Mani Ratnam and popular TV personality Shekhar Suman being on the Lashkar-e-Toiba hit list filtered in.
Ratnam, Suman and Calcutta-based producer Ujjwal Upadhyaya — who is in the news for making the Manisha Koirala starrer An Escape From Taliban — are believed to feature in a list of six film personalities and top TV anchors targeted by Lashkar for their “anti-Islamic views”.
Though a top police source refused to comment on the news, maintaining that it was a intelligence department leak, a joint commissioner of police “confirmed” the intelligence report and told PTI that the “news had substance”.
These personalities, who police say have been provided security, have reportedly been targeted for their films and comments on cross-border terrorism.
Bollywood and TV personalities had reportedly portrayed militant organisations misguiding youth and shown the road to terrorism ending in death and destruction.
The film personalities were provided security after it was learnt that the hit mission against them was being undertaken by Riyadh-based militant Abu Hamza, who police say is wanted by the Indian government in connection with several terrorist acts.
However, when contacted, a TV producer in the line of Lashkar’s fire denied knowledge of “such a story”. Declining to be quoted, he said security had been provided to him “for other reasons”.
Though Bollywood action star Akshay Kumar was given police protection in the first week of January, he maintains he has received no threat.
Most Bollywood actors and producers, who the police maintain have been threatened by the underworld — and have been provided protection — do not acknowledge being threatened.
Most of those reported to have been threatened by the underworld and being cross- examined in the Bharat Shah case have turned hostile witnesses.
Ratnam’s Bombay, starring Manisha Koirala and Arvind Swami, while talking about a well-orchestrated communal riot also focused on the star-crossed love between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl. His other film Roja deals with insurgency in Kashmir and touches on a similar situation.
Manisha and Ratnam had received threats after the release of Bombay. They were later provided police protection.