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Controversy over Aamir’s ‘intolerance’ remarks refuses to die

Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards

New Delhi/Kolkata : The controversy over Aamir Khan’s ‘intolerance’ remarks refused to die down with Home Minister Rajnath Singh today taking an apparent jibe at the Bollywood star and BJP suggesting he visit his village to witness harmony while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee backed him.

Banerjee asserted that it is Aamir’s democratic right to say what he felt and that no one has the right to ask someone to leave this country as it belongs to everyone.

The 50-year-old star also got the support of a Madras High Court judge Justice D Hariparanthaman who said there was nothing wrong with the actor sharing with the people the contents of conversation between him and his wife Kiran Rao.

Actor Hrithik Roshan praised Aamir for his measured response to the criticism that he faced following his remarks that triggered a massive controvery.

Political rivalry also came to the fore when Shiv Sena lambasted Sharad Pawar for defending Aamir, saying the NCP chief has lost connect with the sentiments of the people.

In an apparent jibe at Aamir, Rajnath Singh said B R Ambedkar had never thought of leaving the country despite being subjected to insult and discrimination.

“Despite facing insult and discrimination, he still presented an objective point of view on the Constitution though he was hurt by the treatment. He never thought of leaving India for any other country,” he said while initating a debate in Lok Sabha on committment to the Constitution.

Singh’s remarks drew immediate reaction from the Opposition parties including the Congress and the Left.

The comments by Singh were viewed as an apparent response to Aamir’s statement on Monday that his wife did not feel safe for their child and had also thought of leaving the country. He also expressed “alarm and despondency” over the rise in incidents of intolerance in the last six to eight months. Aamir yesterday stood by what he stated but made it clear that neither he nor his wife have any intention to leave India.

BJP national spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain advised Khan to visit his ancestral village Akhtiyaarpur in Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh and see for himself with how much love and harmony people live there.

Hussain said that Aamir left the village at an early age and joined Bollywood, but people there still believe in ‘Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’, a term used to describe mutually participatory co-existence of Hindu and Muslim culture. He was talking to reporters in Lucknow.

Extending her support to Aamir while addressing a rally of the minorities in Kolkata, Banerjee said, “No one has the right to ask someone to leave this country or go to Pakistan. We all are citizens of this country, India.”

“Nobody can say anything against them in this country. They will decide what we will say or not. Aamir has said something what he felt and what his wife told him, he just said that. He is being asked to leave the country. Who are you to ask someone to leave this country?  This country belongs to everyone. This is our motherland,” the TMC chief said.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Intolerance and Freedom of Speech and Expression’ organised by Advocates’ Forum for Social Justice in Chennai last night, Justice Hariparanthaman said “the actor had only expressed his shock and surprise when his wife put forth the idea of going to some other country due to growing intolerance”.

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