LAHORE: The Defence Housing Authority on Wednesday announced the closure of the DHA cinema till November 30, citing “security concerns”, though the cinema management challenged the claim.

The cinema had been sealed on October 27 and was expected to reopen on October 30, but now appears set to be closed for another month.
Mandviwalla Enter-tainment, which has a contract with DHA to run the cinema, said that it would press ahead with a legal challenge to the DHA action. Nadeem Mandviwalla, the company’s managing director, said that the DHA was already acting illegally as a civil judge had issued an order on October 28 restraining the authority from interfering in the cinema’s operation.

Mandviwalla said that the company would challenge the DHA’s “alleged security concerns” at a hearing of the case scheduled for Thursday morning.

DHA publically insisted that the cinema was closed for security reasons, but sources in the authority said the closure was related to a contract dispute with Mandviwalla Entertainment.

The closure of the cinema had already drawn protests from people who had bought tickets for shows between October 28 and 30. The cinema was also expected to do strong business in the coming days over the Eid holidays and as it was about to launch 3D movies.

Tajammul Hussain, the DHA public relations officer, said that Mandviwalla Entertainment was accommodating people seeking refunds. “We have provided people with contact information of Mandviwalla Entertainment representatives and so far they are co-operating with refunding requests,” he said.

However, Mandviwalla said that the company could not even access the cinema and had no place at which it could call customers to gain their refunds.

Defence B Station House Officer Zahid Hussain Shah said that DHA had told the police regarding the closure of the cinema citing security threats, but had not sought any security from them. He said that the security personnel stationed outside the cinema were deployed by the DHA.

Saad Tariq, a K Block resident who lives near the cinema, said that people in the neighbourhood were concerned about the closure. “I live a stone’s throw away from the cinema,” he said. “To hear it has been closed for a whole month for security reasons has me worried about the security of this area.”

Khalid Zafar, another resident of Defence, said a long closure of the cinema could lead to panic. “Steps like closing cinemas for a month only encourage terrorists in their efforts to harass citizens,” he said.