Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra stopped short of defending the violence by Bajrang Dal men on sets of the web series directed by Prakash Jha, during his vocal condemnation of the director's work, but backed the right-wing group's demand to change the name of the web series. In a tweet, he said such television content is an "attempt to deliberately target Hinduism". The state, he added, will take action against the Dabur's advertisement on a same sex couple observing Karva Chauth that has stirred up controversy.
"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," Mr Mishra said, referring to the web series.
To underscore his point, he later tweeted, "In the name of the web series, an attempt is being made to deliberately target Hinduism for a long time. Considering the spirit of the majority society, Prakash Jha should consider changing the name of his web series Ashram."
"We are going to issue a permanent guideline following the dispute over the shooting of Ashram-3. Now, (the producer-director) will need to show the script of the story to the administration before seeking permission, if they are going to shoot objectionable scenes which hurt the sentiments of any religion," Mr Mishra said.
"Why are advertisements, movies made only on Hindu religion?" Narottam Mishra told reporters. "We strongly object to such acts. If you have the courage, do it with other religions also," he added, echoing the Bajrang Dal supporters who went on a rampage on the sets of his web series Ashram 3 in Bhopal, during Sunday's shooting.
Yesterday evening, men from Bajrang Dal had vandalized the set and manhandled the film crew. Cellphone videos shot by witnesses showed the group members chasing the crew, managing to catch at least one of them and beating him mercilessly with a metal light stand.
After the violence, Bajrang Dal leader Sushil Surhele had demanded that the name of the web series be changed.
"We have given only a warning today by protesting here. Prakash Jha has said that he is in talks to change the show's title. I repeat the show's name will have to be changed from 'Ashram' or won't be filmed here in Bhopal," he said.
"They made Ashram 1, Ashram 2 and were shooting Ashram 3 here. Prakash Jha showed in Ashram that the guru was abusing women. Does he have the guts to make such a film on a church or madrasa? Who does he think he is?" he added.
The minister also said the state will take action against Dabur's Karva Chauth ad featuring a same sex couple.
"It is a serious matter, DGP has been asked to examine it and ask concerned company to remove the ad or face legal action," the minister said.