Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan said on Monday there was “extreme intolerance” in India, touching upon a heated debate at a time a section of writers and intellectuals have launched a protest against the central government over ‘growing religious tension’.
“People put words in the air even before thinking,” Khan said at a Twitter town hall organised by a media house as the star turned 50.
“Intolerance religiously…not being secular in this country is the worst crime you can do as a patriot.”
His comments came at a time a debate has erupted over ‘growing intolerance’, with many writers and filmmakers returning awards they received to protest against the government’s alleged failure to protect the secular fabric in the country and safeguard dissenters.
For its part, the government has accused opposition Congress, Left thinkers and activists of practising “ideological intolerance” towards the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At the town hall with India Today television channel, Khan also talked about his stand on the issue of returning awards.
When asked if he will return an award to take a stand, Khan said, “I have not been in a situation like that. But I respect the people. If they think this gesture is going to turn things around, it is very brave, very honest.”
“As far as I am concerned, I have not participated in something as meaningful as they have.”
Khan also stressed that being a star, it was tough for him to take a stand on every moral issue.
“We may talk about freedom of speech, but people come outside my house and throw stones…
“If I do take a stand, I’ll stand by it,” he added.