“Not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot,” Shah Rukh Khan had said in 2015.
A year after Narendra Modi-led NDA came to power in 2014, a group of Indian writers and thinkers started returning the Sahitya Akademi Award to protest the incidents of so-called communal violence in India. They cited the killing of rationalists MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare, as well as the lynching of a man over suspicions he consumed beef, as examples of rising intolerance in India.
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, in an interview to NDTV, spoke at length on this issue, which later earned him hostile reactions from the right wing.
In comments that could have not been perceived well by the ruling class, SRK said: “there is intolerance, there is extreme intolerance… there is, I think… there is growing intolerance.”
The actor also said that he “respected” people returning awards to protest against intolerance.
“We have made a huge thing about our meat-eating habits. How can the food habits of people be an issue?” he asked.
“”It is stupid… It is stupid to be intolerant and this is our biggest issue, not just an issue… Religious intolerance and not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot.”
Shah Rukh’s statement caused chatter on social media. While many supported his argument, many blamed him for siding with “anti-India” forces to defame the country.
On the other hand, the bollywood actor has cautiously stayed away from being seen with those in power, at a time when celebrities flaunt their selfies with the prime minister. Except one event called for the government’s campaign to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi, Shah Rukh Khan has not attended any meetings or interactions with Prime Minister Modi.
Moreover, he also chose not to speak in favour of the government after numerous celebrities, including his colleagues from the film fraternity, tweeted against pop-star Rihanna’s tweet in favour of protesting farmers.
Though the bollywood star has shied away from criticising the Modi government openly since the 2015 episode, he has also not praised or stood in support of the government, like many others.
Aryan Khan arrest
Picked up from a cruise party by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in its “drug bust”, actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan has now spent almost three weeks in jail, after sessions court refused to grant him bail in multiple hearings. Aryan Khan’s lawyer has now moved high court and his plea will be heard on October 26. The star’s son is likely to remains in Arthur road jail in Mumbai till then.
It should be noted that on the very next day after the cruise arrests, the NCB had told the court that no drugs were found on Aryan Khan. The investigating officer (IO), while seeking Aryan Khan’s further custody, admitted that no illegal drugs were recovered from Aryan Khan.
Aryan has been charged for consumption, although niether was he in possesion of drugs and nor was he intoxicated at the time of the raid. The NCB said that he and his friend Arbaz had planned to consume drugs on the cruise ship. He is also accused of being in constant touch with someone who procured drugs, with the NCB attaching his chats that show his connection to an alleged to international drug syndicate.
Shah Rukh visits Aryan
After Aryan’s bail was rejected on Wednesday, Shah Rukh Khan reached Arthur road jail on Tuesday morning to meet his son. The visuals of his visit to the jail have been doing rounds on social media since morning.
— ANI (@ANI) October 21, 2021
If thas was not enough TRP opportunity for the television Moguls, the NCB officers shortly reached Mannat, Shah Rukh Khan’s residence in Mumbai, for what was reported as a “raid”. Telivision channels broadcast the “raid” visuals live. However, it was clarified later that the NCB had gone to Shah Rukh’s residence for some paperwork and it was not a “raid”.
Supporters allege targeting
Many users on social media, for a few days now, have been complaining that the actor’s son has been used to settle score with Shah Rukh Khan. The “raid” that wasn’t on Tuesday has added more substance to the question of whether the NCB has targeting Shah Rukh Khan on the orders of those who shall not be named. Many also questioned if it was an honest investigation or media-hyped witch hunt by the NCB to garner limelight.
Wankhede raids Shahrukh Khan’s home after tipping off his “pals” in the media. Is this a professional investigation by the NCB or a media hyped witch-hunt?
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) October 21, 2021
Some critics of the Modi regime believe that it is using the case to break the morale of ordinary Muslims. Journalist and author Aatish Taseer tweeted: “It’s so clear what’s happening: the wish to break the morale of the Indian Muslim by showing him/her that even the most powerful among you, the most assimilated, is nothing. If Shah Rukh Khan’s son is rotting in jail, what are you?”
Similar allegations were made by NCP leader Nawab Malik, who raised serious questions over the credibility of the raid conducted by the NCB. Nawab Malik said Shah Rukh Khan was being targeted for not toeing the government line.
Is our system conspiring against the star to make the process his punishment? The bollywood actor has been incessantly targeted after his son’s arrest, with one educational app pulling down his advertisements, while others demanding a ‘boycott’ of the products he endorses.
He and his family have been made fun of and humiliated by clickbait articles, TV debates, and non-stop trolling on social media sites.
Will the King Khan standup?
Many anti-establishment activists often blame bollywood celebrities for not using their voice against government oppression or atrocities. The country, like the bollywood, has been increasingly polarised, and there is constant battle among conservatives and progressives to set up the narrative. The progressives think that their fellow countrymen like Shah Rukh Khan, who enjoy a mass following and can make an impact with thier opinions, should speak up more often against the Modi government.
Hey @iamsrk ,
Your silence is the reason for your kids harassment ..
SPEAK UP like u did 10 years ago..
— | Arif Khan | (@ArifKIndian) October 20, 2021
Many think that it is because of the silence by the likes of Shah Rukh and others in bollywood that the central government is emboldened to armtwist them using agencies or media. Shah Rukh Khan is now being reminded by people on social media of “First they came …“, the poetic form of a 1946 post-war confessional prose by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals and certain clergy—including, by his own admission, Niemöller himself—following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
Shah Rukh Khan’s supporters, along with progressives and Muslims, want him to stand up to what they believe is bullying and harassment of the actor. They want the actor to speak his mind freely like he did earlier during the intolerance row.
But the question remains- Will the real King Khan stand up and speak?