The BJP hit out at Bollywood star Aamir Khan on Tuesday after he revealed his family contemplated moving abroad following a spate of communal incidents but the actor was backed by opposition parties, who alleged the government was trying to muzzle dissent.
The war of words came a day after the popular artist joined a raging debate on rising intolerance in the country, saying the spike in sectarian tensions sowed a sense of “insecurity and fear” in the society and even in his family – drawing sharp reactions.
BJP leader Manoj Tiwari said Aamir disgraced the nation with his remarks.
“I’m deeply saddened and shocked by his statement. I am thinking what people like me who’ve showered him with their love, affection and respect must be going through,” said Tiwari, also a prominent Bhojpuri actor.
But the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party backed the actor, days before the winter session of Parliament where the intolerance debate is likely to be used by opposition parties to corner the government.
“BJP shud stop silencing voices thro abuses n threats. Its high time centrl govt took concrete steps 2 instil sense of security amngst people,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Awards ceremony on Monday, Aamir had expressed alarm over rising communalism, endorsing growing protests by over 50 writers, academics and scientists who have returned top government awards.
“When I chat with Kiran at home, 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. That does indicate this sense of growing disquiet, growing despondency, apart from alarm,” the 50-year-old had said.
Watch | Aamir Khan ‘alarmed at growing intolerance in India’
Aamir is the second prominent Bollywood actor after Shah Rukh Khan to speak out against the alleged growing intolerance in the country, including the mob lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh over beef consumption rumours and the killing of Dalit children in Faridabad. Activists and the Opposition allege ruling party members were deliberately fanning communal passions for electoral benefit.
Shah Rukh came under searing attack from Hindu hardliners after the actor said in an interview earlier this month that there was “nothing worse than religious intolerance and that it would take India to the dark ages”. BJP parliamentarian Yogi Adityanath accused the Bollywood star of treason while party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted Shah Rukh’s soul was in Pakistan, triggering widespread condemnation.
Some of Aamir’s contemporaries in the Hindi film industry also criticised his comments, saying the actor’s success was proof enough of tolerance in India.
“Did you ask Kiran which country would she like to move out to? Did you tell her that this country has made you AAMIR KHAN. When did ‘Incredible India’ become ‘Intolerant India’ for you? Only in the last 7-8 months?” he tweeted.
Director Ram Gopal Varma alleged the need to create “drawing room debates” was driving a wedge between communities.
“Isolated incidents cant be taken as sign of intolerance and the super stardom of 3 Muslims is proof enough of the vast majority’s tolerance,” he tweeted.
(with agency inputs)