The recent statements of Bollywood actor Aamir Khan on the rising intolerance in India that it spread a sense of ‘insecurity and fear’ in the society including his family and that his wife suggested leaving India triggered a raging controversy.
His remarks about the growing disquiet saying that he was ‘alarmed’ by the recent communal incidents and that his wife feared for their child due to the present atmosphere in the country and suggesting leaving India invited volatile reactions from the BJP as well as from the film industry. Khan was speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in Delhi on Monday evening. He had expressed fear over the rising communalism and extended support to the writers, academics and scientists who returned their government awards as part of the growing protest. The sharp criticisms hurled at the actor and his wife for his remarks confirms the obstinate prevalence of the circumstances that compelled President Pranab Mukherjee to warn about the growing intolerance in the country several times. Khan despite being a Muslim married a Hindu woman and has been living a totally secular life maintaining cordial relations with all sections of the society. The rampant fear and anxiety spread among the minority communities due to the tightening clutches of Hindutwa Fascism in all aspects of social life after Modi government came to power is what has provoked Khan to make such a statement.
The impact is more profound in Maharashtra where BJP and Shiv Sena jointly rule. The people voted against the Fascist forces in the Assembly elections first in Delhi and then in Bihar. But the Sangh Parivar, instead of learning their lesson, are concerned only about moving ahead with their saffronising agenda making use of the opportunity in their hands. The frequent international trips by the Prime Minister inviting as much as foreign investors into the country, not receiving a favourable response is due to the fear of growing intolerance among the people. Modi apparently isn’t bothered about a reanalysis realizing the threats due to the rampant tendency or he might even be helpless before the hardcore fascists. Else the responsible persons within the government as well as the ruling party should have at least tried to inquire sensibly about the reasons for the anxiety expressed by Khan who is a well known secular persona. The senior leaders of the BJP, Shiv Sena and Hindu Maha Sabha lashed out at the actor saying that his comments tarnished the image of India and asked him to go to Pakistan. The Sangh Parvar and its allies that hit out at Muslims to go to Pakistan for every word of dissent they express are not aware of its consequences. No wonder that the snobbishness to question the loyalty and nationality of the crores of minorities during a time when the country is celebrating the acceptance of the secular and democratic Constitution by the nation, that guarantees equal fundamental rights to all citizens, has sown fear and anxiety in the minds of people.
Khan received the support of many secular politicians as well as prominent personalities like A R Rahman due to which he stood firm in his stand asserting that he was fortunate to be born in India that he and his wife weren’t planning to leave the country adding that he was proud to be an Indian. The Hindutwa forces are relentlessly chasing the actor and have filed criminal cases against him in Kanpur and Muzaffarpur. A saga of similar cases could soon be anticipated in different states. M F Hussain, India’s greatest artists and an internationally acclaimed painter, was forced to leave the country due to the several criminal complaints filed against him by the communal forces. Forced to give up his citizenship and with no hope to return to his home country, Hussain later secured Qatar nationality. Actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan are thrown amidst the raging debate and hushed up when they voice their dissent. The dangerous scenario currently prevailing in the country poses a threat to the nation and therefore should be discoursed in the parliament. It’s the apt time for the peace-loving citizens to openly express their views. Beyond all the hullabaloos, extensive and careful analysis is what is required to treat this predicament.