Why shouldn’t we challenge calls for India’s ruin?…Umar Khalid’s playing Muslim card…intolerance is an anti-Modi ploy: Anupam Kher
Acclaimed actor Anupam Kher is amongst signatories to an open letter condemning slogans against India and support for terrorists. Speaking with Rohit E David, Kher discussed why he thinks expression in universities needs a crucial curb, free speech as represented by Arvind Kejriwal, an ‘intolerance’ conspiracy against PM Modi – and how JNU student Umar Khalid might be playing a certain card:
Aren’t universities meant to be places for free and open debate?
Absolutely, they are places for open debates and freedom of speech – but not for people shouting slogans against India.
Universities are the place where we formulate the future of India. This is the youth which will form a free India – but if those places become hubs for certain students where they form views like those heard recently at JNU, then i think it needs to be looked into.
Students are usually irreverent – are we being over-sensitive now?
There is nothing called being oversensitive when it comes to an issue about India’s ruin.
Why is patriotism being questioned in a manner like this?
JNU student Umar Khalid says he’s never thought like a Muslim but he’s been pushed into this identity now – what’s your view?
He is playing the Muslim card by saying, ‘I’m Umar Khalid and i’m not a terrorist.’ This is a headlinegrabbing line.
For that matter, the person who is in jail right now, his name is not Umar Khalid – his name is Kanhaiya who represents one of our Gods, Lord Krishna. But he’s there.
Why have things become so polarised today?
Well, we were ruled by a certain party for a long time. Today, the people ruling this country for 60 years have been thrashed badly by a different party.
Now, we have Prime Minister Narendra Modi who does not take leave. I have never read that the PM has gone for a holiday to Kullu Manali or Kashmir. He spends his Diwali with jawans. He’s made two very important points with the Clean India campaign and toilets for women. We haven’t heard of corruption issues either during the last two years.
He is trying his level best to change India’s image outside India – and he’s succeeded to a large extent. I’m a person who travels a lot, i have seen that.
So, how do we counter him? By creating a situation saying that he is intolerant or that under his rule, the country has become intolerant – let’s discredit him by saying that his policies have failed.
But amidst the noise, activist Soni Sori has actually been attacked – instead of being silent, should the PM set an example by reaching out now?
I think what happened to Soni Sori is very shameful and sad. However, do we question the Prime Minister’s integrity if he has not commented on it? And how do we know that he has not reached out?
We had a Prime Minister for the last 10 years who didn’t answer anything – he was called the silent PM. Now, anything happens in the country, Modi should be held responsible. We have a chief minister in Delhi who openly calls the PM of the country a psychopath and coward – what is the biggest freedom of speech you need in this country?
Despite freedom of speech, do you feel Congress stayed silent on the Kashmiri Pandits’ plight?
Everybody stayed silent. I don’t want to blame any political party – all parties kept mum.
Kashmiri Pandits have quietly moved on. They have not picked up guns, not planted bombs, not resorted to violence. They’re still going through misery – but Pandits are resilient and aren’t a vote bank.
Some people have written that Anupam Kher has woken up to this now – but i was at the first Kashmiri Pandit refugee conference which happened in 1993.
We are living examples of being refugees in our own country.
Does the concept of secularism need a new look?
Well, these words ‘secularism’ or ‘intolerance’ are basically coined by certain sections of intellectuals. I’m in an industry where secularism is the most amazing thing. I’ve never felt that my light boy is from one religion or camera man is from another religion. Three Khans ruled this industry for the last 20 years, based on their hard work.
I think this turmoil is social churning – and solutions will come out of it.
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