‘No space for dissent in country’: Naseeruddin Shah responds to outburst in Amnesty video
Close on the heels of his “anxious about children’s safety” comment, veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah is seen in an Amnesty India video expressing concern over alleged muzzling of voices of dissent.
In the video, Shah says, “Those who demand rights are being locked away. Artists, actors scholars, poets are all being stifled. Journalists too are being silenced. In the name of religion, walls of hate are being erected. Innocents are being killed.”
“Had we dreamt of a country where there is no space for dissent? Where only rich and powerful are heard, and where the poorest and most vulnerable are forever oppressed? Where there once was law, there is now only darkness,” the veteran actor is seen saying in the video.
‘Journalists are being silenced’: Naseeruddin Shah in Amnesty video
Shah had raked a controversy in December 2018 when he referred to killing of a police official in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr and said he feels anxious for his children. The policeman was killed during mob violence after bovine carcasses were found in the district.
“I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks, ‘Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?’ they will have no answer. It worries me that I don’t see the situation improving anytime soon,” Shah had said in an interview.
His statement evoked reactions from the government when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “The tolerance that exists in India is unmatched…such tolerance is not found in any corner of the world. Perhaps, India is the only country, where people from all religions co-exist peacefully since ages.”
Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also played down the concerns expressed by Shah. “I think his emotions may have been right, but his words were probably misconstrued and a mountain was made out of a molehill. India is a tolerant country. Tolerance and harmony are in the DNA of the country,” Naqvi had told news agency PTI.
In the video put out by the Amnesty India on Twitter on Friday, Shah says, “The country is awash with horrific hatred and cruelty. And those who stand against this injustice are having their office raided, their licence cancelled, their bank accounts frozen, their voice silenced. Only so that they are deterred from speaking the truth.”
Incidentally, the Enforcement Directorate had raided Amnesty India’s headquarters in Bengaluru in October last year. The raids were carried out for allegedly receiving foreign funds illegally.
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