A day after a controversy broke out over actor Naseeruddin Shah’s comments about rising communal sentiments in India, the actor has now responded to the barbs directed his way.
Speaking to the media from Ajmer where he is slated to attend a literature festival, Shah said, “What I said earlier was as a worried Indian. What did I say this time that I am being termed as a traitor? I am expressing concerns about the country I love, the country that is my home. How is that a crime?”
Shah became the centre of heated debates after he said that he is worried about his children in today’s India. The actor said there is a “poison” that has spread in the Indian society.
“I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks, ‘Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?’ they will have no answer. It worries me that I don’t see the situation improving anytime soon,” he said.
He also made an apparent reference to the recent mob violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr, saying that the death of a cow is being given more importance than the killing of a policeman.
Shah became the target of online trolls as well as right-wing groups, with many accusing him of being a traitor. A mob descended on the site of the Ajmer Literature Festival, where Shah is a guest and resorted to vandalism to lodge their protest.
Criticising Shah for his remarks, Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha said, “Naseeruddin Shah should first ask Rohingya to leave Hindustan as according to him India is unsafe for him and his family. An artist should not be part of a sinister design of anti-civil society propaganda. His statement shows his low thinking.”
The Shiv Sena also slammed Shah. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, “If his kids are caught in a mob, they should say they are Indians/Hindustani…Why are they scared?”
Haryana BJP minister Anil Vij mocked Shah’s statement on Bulandshahr saying, “Naseeruddin ji, we give cows as much as importance as humans. If you also start giving cows the same importance, your problems will be solved on their own.”
A user commented on the YouTube video shared by Karwan-e-Mohabbat India, saying “I think Gulfam Hasan’s character played by him in ‘Sarfarosh’ is actually his real character. Anti-Indian elements are using social media very shrewdly.”
The comment was in reference to his character in the 1998 action-drama “Sarfarosh” in which he played a Pakistani singer who aids cross-border terrorism in the garb of spreading music.
“This is the same guy who signed a mercy petition for Yakub Memon. Problem is within you Mr Gulfam Hassan Naseeruddin Shah,” a user wrote on Twitter.
“Criminals and corrupt have to fear in India. Go to Pakistan Naseeruddin Shah,” another user commented.
The criticism took a near-comical turn with Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena claiming that they had booked a flight ticket for Shah to Pakistan. Booking a ticket from Mumbai to Karachi for August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, party chief Amit Jani said, “If Naseeruddin Shah is scared in India, he should not delay in leaving for Pakistan. I have booked a ticket for him for for August 14 Pakistan Independence Day, so that India has one less traitor.”