Naseeruddin Shah’s visit to the Ajmer Literature Festival was cancelled following outrage over his recent comments on the current situation in the country. Members of right wing organizations staged protests, demanding an apology from the actor, outside the venue.
Shah was scheduled to inaugurate the festival and address the audience yesterday (21 December). He was also supposed to release his autobiography, And Then One Day: A Memoir, along with his wife and veteran actress Ratna Pathak Shah.
“We alerted the police after protests since morning, But the protestors managed to enter the festival venue just before the scheduled inaugural to disrupt the event. We were forced to call Shah and request him not to come to the venue,” Ras Bihar Gaur, co-ordinator of the festival, informed The Times of India, a daily.
Shah had earlier commented on the killings of a police officer and a student by a mob in the Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh.
The veteran actor had spoken about the killings in an interview with the YouTube channel Karwan-e-Mohabbat. “It will be very difficult to capture this djinn back into the bottle again. There is complete impunity for those who take law into their own hands. In many areas we are that the death of a cow is more significance than that of a police officer,” he had said.
The main accused in the crime is Yogesh Raj, a local leader of the Bajrang Dal.
Shah also said that he hasn’t given any religious education to his children. “I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks, ‘Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?’ they will have no answer,” he added.
Yesterday, Shah visited his alma mater St Anselm’s Senior Secondary School in Ajmer. There, he told a group of reporters, “What I said earlier was as a worried Indian. What did I say this time that I am being termed as a traitor? It’s very strange. I have to bear criticism. If they have the right to criticize, then I also have the same right. I am expressing concerns about the country I love, the country that is my home. How is that a crime?”