Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan on Monday joined the rising chorus against growing “intolerance”, saying he has been “alarmed” by a number of incidents and his wife Kiran Rao even suggested that they should probably leave the country.
Reacting to actor Aamir Khan’s remarks on intolerance in India, the ruling BJP said there was little truth to Khan’s remarks and that India was, is, and always will be a tolerant nation. “Moving out of the nation, is an individual’s choice,” the BJP said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, party spokesperson Nalin Kohli reiterated that the continuous free debate and the expression of dissent has taken place all the time, proof enough of how tolerant a society we are.
Aamir Khan spoke clearly on the theme of fear as a consequence of two themes: what’s going on and whether our elected representatives make us feel safe or not. With Arun Jaitley in the audience, Aamir Khan was unambiguous about not feeling “comfortable” with the quality of political “safeguarding” of civil life and liberty. The tone he struck was not very different from the soulful Bhagwan Hai Kahan Re Tu song from his recent blockbuster movie PK. For readers dipping in less frequently, Aamir Khan plays an alien in PK, and from that platform, questions religious dogmas and ‘intolerance’ before it became a byword for what’s the latest in India.
Without referring specifically to the Dadri lynching or any of the headline events that have dominated public debate before and during the Bihar elections, Aamir Khan said that referring to the 1984 anti Sikh riots does not make the present situation pale in comparison or better in a relative sense.
“That was not right and this is not right either,” he said. But what Aamir is alluding to is a no brainer: Days before the fifth phase of the Bihar election, BJP took one last swipe in the hope to turn the intolerance debate back a couple of decades, invoking the anti Sikh riots. Nothing worked, the party got a thrashing in Bihar.
“Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet,” he said at the ceremony in the presence of Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Suresh Prabhu and Najma Heptullah.
Kohli said there could be multiple reasons behind Kiran thinking of moving out of the country. “That’s an individual choice. There is no prevention on that. It could be for education, career, business and tax reasons. Any individual can exercise that right. The fact that we have millions of people illegally immigrating to India and nothing happening against them is also an example of tolerance.”
“A number of creative people – historians, scientists – increasingly had a certain feeling in them, which they felt they need to express. For creative people, one of the ways of expressing their dissatisfaction or their disappointment is to return their awards. I think that’s one way of getting your point across,” he said.
When asked whether he endorsed the protests by the people, Aamir said he would as long as it is non-violent as “all individuals have a right to protest and they can protest in any manner that they feel is right as long as they are not taking the law into their hands.”
“Dear @aamir_khan. #SatyamevaJayate u talked about evil practices but gave Hope. So even in ‘Intolerant’ times u need 2 spread Hope not Fear,” Kher, who had last month led a counter protest rally, tweeted.
Kohli also sought to remind Khan about his own film PK that faced opposition for hurting religious sentiments.
“His own film PK, though there were some protest over hurting religious sentiments, was a resounding box office. Hasn’t he seen how tolerant a society we are?”