Bollywood's veteran actress Simi Garewal, who kicked up a storm with her comment on a TV show that slums in Mumbai can be seen sporting Pakistani flags, has apologised, saying she was wrong and stood corrected.
"I was wrong on that count and I apologise for that. In the slums near the Race Course in Mahalaxmi in central Mumbai which I was talking about, they sport Islamist flags; and you know it closely resembles the Pakistani flag. This was pointed out to me by somebody. So, I say sorry and stand corrected," Garewal told IANS, after Mumbai's 60-hour terror siege in which at least 183 people were killed.
Stating that she stood by her views, verbalised in NDTV's We The People programme anchored by Barkha Dutt Sunday, that India must dismantle the militant camps in Pakistan if the Pakistani government was incapable of doing so, Garewal asked: "Hasn't the US Army gone in and uprooted the training camps situated in the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan?"
She said the government must stop being soft towards terrorists and emphasised that she was "not all disrespectful towards Pakistan's sovereignty".
"My suggestion is that the Indian Army should go into POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir), do the job and come back back without harming the country or its people."
Garewal said she was "still angry and frustrated because we are all so helpless in the face of terror".
"When the terrorists from across the border strike India, the Hindus and Muslims suffer equally. We have seen that happening again and again,"
Excerpts from the interview with IANS:
On the TV programme, We The People, Sunday, you made very strong suggestions that India should bomb militant camps in Pakistan. Do you think it's easy to transgress the sovereignty of a country?
I still stand by what I said in the "We The People" programme." India knows where these militant camps are located in Pakistan. We have the video footage and proof. If the Pakistani government is unwilling or incapable of dismantling them, I reiterate that, for our own safety, India should.
But Pakistan is a sovereign country. If India does what you have suggested, it might lead to another war between the two countries?
But can't we do that invisibly? Hasn't the US Army gone in and uprooted the training camps situated in the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan? If the US can do that, why can't we?
It seems you are being too emotional to suggest that.
Perhaps I am being emotional. Like every Mumbaikar, I am angry and frustrated. How long can we live in fear of being attacked by terrorists from across the border? Are we going to be sitting ducks forever, waiting for the next attack?
What do you want the government of India to do under the present circumstances?
I want to tell the government, stop being soft towards the terrorists. Act and act swiftly.
The Indian government has already put tremendous pressure on the present Pakistan government to dismantle the terrorist camps there. The country is also under international pressure in the aftermath of 27/11.
But it's not working, is it? Has the Indian government received even a modicum of a favourable response from the Pakistan government in this regard? And anyway, will any country ever admit to it? Has Pakistan responded to India's request to hand over the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused Dawood Ibrahim after all these years?
Don't you think India has done its best to make Pakistan understand the consequences of terrorists being let loose? The country itself has been a victim of terrorist attacks.
You are right. And yet it is not doing anything to rein in the terrorists and that is exactly what has angered me, like everybody else. If Pakistan is unable to do it, it must allow us to do it.
Here, let me emphasise clearly, I am not at all disrespectful towards Pakistan's sovereignty. Nor am I suggesting that India should invade Pakistan. No! My suggestion is that the Indian army should go into POK on a mission, do the job and come back without harming the country and its people. We cannot afford to suffer anymore because of Pakistan's inaction.
Aren't you aware that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and such an impulsive act, if one would go by your suggestions, would assure muted annihilation for both the countries.
As I have said, I am not a war monger, nor am I a politician and I do not know anything about handling clever military operations. But the time has come for us to take some drastic steps, so that the citizens of India can live peacefully.
On that programme you also made a remark that slums in Mumbai sporting the Pakistan flag. Have you actually been to a slum and seen any of these flags?
I was wrong on that count and I apologise for that. In the slums near the Race Course in Mahalaxmi in central Mumbai which I was talking about, they sport Islamist flags; and you know it closely resembles the Pakistani flag. This was pointed out to me by somebody. So, I say sorry and stand corrected.
Do you believe all Muslims in India are anti-national and support Pakistan?
Oh no! Not at all! Absolutely not! I have never said that. When the terrorists from across the border strike India, the Hindus and Muslims suffer equally. We have seen that happening again and again.
But the statement you made on that widely watched TV programme were very provocative. Do you regret your comments?
I don't. I never intended to provoke anybody. I made those statements as a patriotic Indian, and a Mumbaikar I was worked up. I am still angry and frustrated because we all are so helpless in the face of terror. I am only putting forward an agenda to let ourselves be out of the grip of fear. Because, as I see it, there are no other solutions left.