Hindus protest bin Laden film shoot in north India

CHANDIGARH, India Fri Mar 2, 2012 10:24am EST

Movie director Kathryn Bigelow of the United States, winner of an Oscar as best director in 2010 for the ''Hurt Locker'' speaks to reporters in Havana December 5, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

Movie director Kathryn Bigelow of the United States, winner of an Oscar as best director in 2010 for the ''Hurt Locker'' speaks to reporters in Havana December 5, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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CHANDIGARH, India (Reuters) - Hindu radicals in India protested on Friday against the shooting of a film by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow on the hunt for Osama bin Laden on the grounds that the film-makers were portraying Pakistan on Indian soil.

Bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in May last year.

The film-makers, denied permission to film in Pakistan, converted parts of the Indian city of Chandigarh to look like the Pakistani city of Lahore.

But for right-wing Hindus, the use of India to portray sworn enemy Pakistan was too much.

"They have made Chandigarh like Pakistan, as if it is Pakistan," said Vijay Bhardwaj, a leader of the radical Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Hindu group.

"We strongly oppose this and we will not let them put Pakistani flags here and we will not let them shoot for the film."

Billboards with Urdu signs were put up on shops in a market in the north Indian city and auto-rickshaws were running with Lahore number plates. Burqa-clad women and men dressed in traditional Pakistani clothes roamed the streets.

The small group of protesters shouted slogans and some of them were seen arguing with cast and crew members as police tried to intervene.

The protesters said the government should have denied permission to make the film on Indian soil.

Bigelow, who won an Oscar for her Iraq war movie "The Hurt Locker," was developing a film on the hunt for bin Laden before the al Qaeda leader was killed in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.

The film, "Zero Dark Thirty," is due for release in late 2012.

Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan have fought three wars since winning their independence from Britain in 1947. Suspicion between the nuclear-armed rivals lingers.

(Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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