Bollywood Star Aamir Khan Says Rising Intolerance Has Prompted Him and Wife to Consider Leaving India

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.

A person killing people with a Quran in his hand is not Muslim but a terrorist, said Khan while speaking at an award function Monday evening. The Indian Express links to a video of Aamir Khan speaking at the event.

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.

Aamir Khan also supported those returning their awards, saying one of the ways for creative people to express their dissatisfaction or disappointment is to return their awards.

“As an individual, as part of this country as a citizen, we read in the papers what is happening, we see it on the news and certainly, I have been alarmed. I can’t deny. I have been alarmed by a number of incidents,” he said while speaking here at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards. This Aamir story has made the headlines in all leading broadsheets and social too.

The actor said he also feels that the sense of insecurity and fear has been growing in the past six or eight months.

“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 that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm. You feel why this is happening, you feel low. That sense does exist in me,” 50-year-old Aamir said. Read The Times of India report here.

The actor said for any society, it is important to have a sense of security and sense of justice.

Taking potshots at politicians, he said “… People who are our elected representatives, people who we select to look after us for five years, state or centre… when people take law into their hands, we look upon these people to take a strong stance, to make a strong statement, speed up the legal process, when we see that happening there is a sense of security but when we don’t see that happening there is a sense of insecurity.”

Endorsing the move by scientists, writers and filmmakers to return their awards to register their protest against the atmosphere of growing intolerance, he said for creative people it is important to voice what they feel.

“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.”

BBC News has a long list of what all ingredients went into the making of the ‘intolerance’ headline.

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