Prominent members of the film industry have condemned actor Shabana Azmi’s comments on TV that Muslims are not sheltered by Indian democracy.
At a press conference, producer Ashoke Pandit, director Shashi Ranjan and music composer Aadesh Srivastava said statements like Azmi’s were inflammatory, irresponsible and false.
On Sunday, Azmi had said that the Indian polity had made only “token gestures” rather than address real issues. She also claimed it had proved impossible for her to buy a home in Mumbai due to discrimination.
“I wanted to buy a flat in Bombay and it wasn’t given to me because I was a Muslim. I read the same about Saif (Ali Khan),” Azmi said.
“She has umpteen... houses so I don’t know how she can say this. If she hasn’t got a flat, then where does she stay?” Pandit said. “If it were true, then most Muslims would be living on the streets, which is not the case.”
They added Azmi had been foolish to make the statement at a time of high tension in Jammu and Kashmir and that she had spoken to further her own political agenda. Azmi has previously served as a Rajya Sabha MP.
“There is no problem for Muslims renting or buying houses here, whether they are film stars or working class,” Pandit said. “It is the case that in certain communities you have to respect the culture. Such as Jains, who would not allow a non-vegetarian to stay in the association, and one has to respect that. However, giving it a communal colour is what we object to.”
“She is an opinion-maker and for her to make such statements is dangerous. It could lead to communal disharmony...,” Pandit said.