Hate speech, inciting violence and calling for a genocide are the few things that were part of a recent Hindutva conclave held in India’s Haridwar where leaders of the right-wing made a call for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in India. In an interview with The Wire, actor Naseeruddin Shah expressed the pain and anger he felt as an Indian Muslim who had to hear and see extremists plan the massacre of his community.
He mentioned in the interview that the event seems to be a “concerted attempt to make Muslims feel insecure.”
“It is starting from the very top where Aurangzeb is being evoked and Mughal invaders are being invoked and the separatism seems to have become a policy for the ruling party,” he said.
“The fact that there is definitely an attempt to make us scared and that is something which I have always held as a placard that we should not be scared and, funnily, being scared is one of the accusations that is thrust upon me all the time,” he said.
Shah, who has starred in many Bollywood films such as A Wednesday and The Dirty Picture, received a lot of flak for his previous anti-Hindutva statements, which resulted in two of his films being pulled, he told the publication.
“It leaves you aghast when you hear things like this and I wonder if these people know what they’re talking about because what they are calling for is a full scale civil war. Two hundred million of us are not going to get wiped out that easily. Two hundred million of us are going to fight back, we claim it [India] to be our motherland, we belong here and were born here, generations of our families have lived and died here and I’m certain if any such movement begins, it’s going to be met with a massive resistance and a massive amount of anger,” the Masoom actor said.
Shah also exclaimed over the fact that the atrocities of Mughals are being highlighted whenever a Hindutva leader wants to attack the Muslims of India. “They forget that the Mughals were people who contributed to this country and are people who’ve left lasting monuments, history, culture, tradition of dance, music, poetry and literature. They came here to make this their homeland and to hold Muslims in India today responsible for the so-called atrocities is nothing short of ridiculous.”
He had also said that, “Mughals were well-off refugees who were here to make it their homeland. They are being blamed unnecessarily.”
Shah’s statement defending Mughal emperors has landed him in hot water with many Indians calling him out on Twitter. The topic of the Mughals seems to be a sensitive one in India, with many viewing them as conquerors.
The three-day event where the call for ethnic cleansing was made was organised by Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand in Uttarakhand’s pilgrimage city of Haridwar. At the event multiple calls were made to kill minorities and attack their religious spaces.
“Like Myanmar, our police, our politicians, our army and every Hindu must pick up weapons and conduct a safayi abhiyan (clean-up). There is no other option left,” Swami Prabodhanand Giri, president of the Hindu Raksha Sena, was quoted as saying by NDTV.