There are some who have conveniently kept mum and been silent over Shiv Sena’s recent tirade and threats towards Pakistani artists and cricketers. The only Pakistani artists to have spoken out against Shiv Sena’s acts are Hamza Ali Abbasi and Shaan Shahid. However, actress Sharmila Tagore was the first among Bollywood superstars to have criticised rising acts of intolerance in India, which have culminated in mob lynchings as well as threats to Pakistani artists.
Speaking at the CII Big Picture Summit 2015 in Delhi, Sharmila Tagore praised the writers who had returned their Akademi awards in protest over rising intolerance and extremism in the country.
“It’s a challenging time for India. There is a conflict between modernity and serious threat of regression and there is kind of ban on freedom of speech as the Akademi awards are being returned,” she said. She also went on to explain how the current events reminded her of the Indira Gandhi-era Emergency.
“It is my personal point of view that what the writers, who are returning their awards, are doing is a spontaneous movement. What is happening is reminding us of Emergency and Babri Masjid. We are reminded that this is a serious threat to the fabric of our country. It is a spontaneous protest,” she stated.
Sharmila also spoke on the Dadri lynching, in which a Muslim man was beaten to death, as rumours spread that he had consumed the meat of a cow on Eid-ul-Azha. She wished for strict punishment to be doled out to those who were involved in such incidents.
“What happened in Dadri was scary. It was actually crossing the line. Nobody has condemned it strongly enough. I would like to hear some kind of justice being done, convicts being punished. Because, if we do not do that, a wrong message will go out. Every time there is silence, the ambit of impunity is increasing.”
Sharmila Tagore is the mother of Saif Ali Khan and was a top-notch actress during her era. She is also the winner of a National Award. It is brave of her to speak up regarding the issue and be the voice of reason and logic, at a time when India needs it most.