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No intention of leaving country, proud to be Indian: Aamir

Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards

Mumbai : Under fierce criticism from BJP and its allies over his remarks on intolerance, Bollywood star Aamir Khan today asserted that he stood by what he had stated and that neither he nor his wife Kiran Rao have any intention to leave the country.

50-year-old Aamir, who drew flak from BJP and a section of film fraternity for expressing his “alarm and despondency” over the rise in recent incidents of intolerance, came out with a statement, saying he is “proud to be an Indian”.

Hitting out at Aamir, Union minister Prakash Javadekar today said the “extreme reaction” given by the actor has not only “dented” the image of the country but also his own.

Joining his party colleagues who have been critical of Aamir’s comments, Javedekar said the reason why his party did not agree with the actor’s statement is because the country has a “legacy of tolerance”.

Another Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said tolerance is in India’s DNA and the actor need not leave the country, advising him to not come under the influence of “fabricated political propaganda”.

“Tolerance is in India’s DNA. There is no space for intolerance in the country. People don’t need to get influenced by fabricated political propaganda,” he tweeted.

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “Some are propagating wrong things some are coming under wrong propaganda. There is more tolerance in India. People of India are tolerant.”

The government had called Aamir’s comments alarmist, with ministers alleging a conspiracy to tarnish India’s image.

In his one-page statement, Aamir said,”First let me state categorically that neither I, nor my wife Kiran, have any intention of leaving the country. We never did, and nor would we like to in the future.

“Anyone implying the opposite has either not seen my interview or is deliberately trying to distort what I have said. India is my country, I love it, I feel fortunate for being born here, and this is where I am staying,” he said.

The actor had kicked up a political storm with his remarks at a function in Delhi on Monday about his wife expressing fear for their child in the current atmosphere.

He had said, “Kiran and I have lived all our life in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India… She fears for her child, she fears about what the atmosphere around us will be.”

A defiant Aamir showed no signs of relenting today in the face of fresh attack.

“I stand by everything that I have said in my interview. To all those people who are calling me anti-national, I would like to say that I am proud to be Indian, and I do not need anyone’s permission nor endorsement for that,” he said.

Sources close to the actor denied media reports that Kiran was asked to leave Mumbai for a few days in view of the raging controversy. She is in Mumbai and has no plans to leave the city, the sources said.

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