EDITORIAL | Nothing wrong in Shah’s views

Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah is the latest target of abusive attacks and a hate campaign after he expressed concern over the rising tide of intolerance and perversion of values in the country. Shah’s worry over the actions of vigilante groups and their power is legitimate as the country has seen a series of attacks on people, mainly those belonging to the minority community, in the name of cow protection. His remarks were specifically in the context of the recent Bulandshahr incident in which two persons, including a police officer, were killed by a mob after carcasses of cows were allegedly found in a nearby place. He said that the death of a cow is more important than the killing of a law-keeper for the administrators and there is complete impunity for those who take the law into their hands. He also said that he felt anxious about his children in such an insecure milieu. 

Shah has come under fierce attack for his views and the responses are not a reasoned disputation, made in decent language. The attacks have come from the BJP, Sangh Parivar bodies and their activists, and fringe groups on many forums including the social media. He has been called a traitor and anti-national and has been told to go to Pakistan. This is the standard response now to anyone who disagrees with the BJP, its government, its policies and actions, and that itself validates the actor’s view on the growing climate of insecurity and intolerance. The actor has not said anything wrong. It was clear from the response of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that he considered the life of the cow more important than that of the police officer. Vigilantes and killers have not only enjoyed impunity but have been rewarded and felicitated by ministers. 

Naseeruddin Shah has the right to express his views and feelings about any issue, and social, political and other matters and situations in the country. He is a citizen living in a democracy and has all the rights granted to a citizen by the Constitution. He also does not have to prove his credentials as a patriot. Three years ago, film actor Aamir Khan also came under attack for expressing similar views. Shah was not only trolled but the Ajmer Literary Festival cancelled his keynote address and there were attempts to vandalise the festival venue. Shah’s views are shared by all those who set store by the values and principles that underlie our democracy, like equality, tolerance, secularism and the rule of law. When he is attacked, all Indians are attacked and all others’ freedom is in peril.

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EDITORIAL | Nothing wrong in Shah’s views

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