The debate on “rising intolerance” in the country has been stirred once again. Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan on Monday said he has been “alarmed” by a number of incidents which has given rise to this very issue. Prior to Aamir Khan, several film actors, including Shahrukh Khan too had voiced their opinion on the debate over “rising intolerance”. At the same time, Aamir Khan lent his support to the number of authors, multi-lingual writers, filmmakers and other prominent personalities who returned their awards expressing protest over “rising intolerance in the country.”
The remarks by the popular actor has now once again brought the debate on “intolerance” at the centre stage with the ruling party BJP questioning Aamir Khan’s comment and the main opposition party Congress, along with its top leadership, backing Khan’s opinion.
Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in New Delhi that included Union minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Aamir Khan had said, “As an individual, as part of this country as a citizen, we read in the papers what is happening, we see it on the news and certainly, I have been alarmed. I can’t deny.”
Citing that his wife Kiran Rao even contemplated to “leave the country”, the actor opined that the sense of insecurity and fear has been growing in the past six or eight months.
“When I sit at home and talk to Kiran, she says ‘should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day,” Aamir Khan said.
“What Aamir Khan, one of the most respected actor, has said in the presence of many senior BJP people is what the whole world is saying, all of India is saying, all right- minded people are saying,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
Soon after the party’s top leadership too contributed to the debate.
“Instead of branding all those who question the Government and Modiji as unpatriotic, anti-national or ‘motivated’, the Govt would do better to reach out to people to understand what’s disturbing them. That’s the way to solve problems in India – not by bullying, threatening & abusing!” Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
On the other hand, responding to Aamir Khan’s opinions, the ruling BJP came down to address the press conference at its party headquarters in the national capital.
“Don’t forget India made you a star,” said senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain adding, “No country better than India for Muslims…. A small incident happens in a country of 121 crore people, but it is not alright to malign our ‘Incredible India’ over the same.”
During the presser, Hussain also accused the principal opposition party Congress for blowing the issue of “intolerance” out of proportion and also at some instances being a ‘force’ behind the protest.
“Rahul Gandhi should not teach India tolerance,” he replied when the press pack sought his views on Gandhi’s criticism of the Modi government.
Previously on Monday evening, Aamir Khan in a reference to the elected representatives had said, “people who are our elected representatives, people who we select to look after us for five years, state or centre… when people take law into their hands, we look upon these people to take a strong stance, to make a strong statement, speed up the legal process, when we see that happening there is a sense of security but when we don’t see that happening there is a sense of insecurity.”
Also endorsing the move by scientists, writers and filmmakers to return their awards to register their protest, he opined that for creative people it is important to voice what they feel.
“A number of creative people — historians, scientists — increasingly had a certain feeling in them, which they felt they need to express. For creative people, one of the ways of expressing their dissatisfaction or their disappointment is to return their awards. I think that’s one way of getting your point across,” Aamir Khan had said.
(With inputs from the PTI)