Indian Film Star Sparks Riots in Nepal
K A T M A N D U, Nepal, Dec. 27 -- Protesters angry about alleged anti-Nepal comments by South Asia’s latest movie heartthrob rushed the streets of Nepal’s capital today, setting tires and trees ablaze andvirtually shutting down the city.
A day after earlier rioting left four people dead, publictransportation was halted in Katmandu, and only police,firefighters and ambulances were allowed out on the smoke-filled streets to put out the tire and tree fires.
The rioting here began a day earlier, when a rumor swept through southern Nepalese towns that Indian film star Hrithik Roshan had told an interviewer that he hated Nepal and its people.
Indian businesses were vandalized, and windows at The State Bank of India were smashed.
Schools, businesses and offices were closed as thedemonstrators, many university students, spilled out into the streets setting fires. There were no reported injuries.
Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Poudel appealed for calm as police clashed with demonstrators today. “I appeal for calm as these types of violent activitiesonly damage the nation,” he told reporters.
Roshan has vehemently denied making such comments, and the only television network that has carried an extensive interview with the hugely popular star backed him up. Nevertheless, the unrest spread.
No serious incidents were reported but an Indian Airlinesflight from Katmandu to the north Indian city of Varanasi was cancelled because the crew had difficulty reaching Katmandu airport as a result of street disturbances, India’s UNI news agency reported.
Communication Minister Jaya Prakash Gupta said the government had asked movie theaters across Nepal to stop screening Roshan films to prevent further attacks.
Cable operators also cut Indian television channels, fearing violence.
Roshan shot to fame last year with the release of his firstfilm, Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, or Say This Is Love.
Although two subsequent films this year haven’t done as well, the hysteria generated by the first film has sustained his popularity.
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