Extending her support to Bollywood star Aamir Khan by saying that it is his democratic right to say what he felt, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said “no one has the right to ask someone to leave this country as this country belongs to everyone”.
“No one has the right to ask someone to leave this country or go to Pakistan. We all are citizens of this country, India,” Mamata said while addressing a rally of the minorities in Kolkata.
She also lashed out at Hindutva groups, saying that no one has the right to kill someone for just consuming beef, as the Constitution grants the right to preach to each of its citizens. “Nobody can say anything against them in this country. Whether Aamir is wrong or right, why would they decide? He has said something what he felt and what his wife told him. He has been asked to leave the country, as if the country is theirs and not ours. Who are they to ask someone to leave this country? This country belongs to everyone. This is our motherland,” Mamata said.
Mamata’s comment’s comes in the backdrop of countrywide criticism on Aamir Khan’s recent remark where he expressed “alarm and despondency” over the rise in incidents of intolerance in the last six to eight months.
“Kiran (his wife) and I have lived all our life in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India… She fears for her child, she fears about what the atmosphere around us will be,” the actor said in an interaction at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism ceremony organised by The Indian Express.
Mamata also criticised statements made against actor Shah Rukh Khan over his comments on intolerance. “They have criticised actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan and musician A R Rahman. Who are they to decide what we will say or what we will eat?,” the CM said.
The CM expressed apprehensions that the powers in Delhi might unleash CBI or ED against her for her comments against intolerance and threat to communal harmony. “If you say anything against them, they will engage CBI or ED after you. Many have been threatened to give a false statement. They have threatened Mithun Chakraborty, my party MP, in such a way that he can’t even talk to me. But you can’t shut my mouth by engaging CBI,” she claimed.
Daring the Centre to put her in jail “if they want to”, Mamata said: “I tell them to do what they want as long as they are in power of or have the courage to do so. But let not the courage become foolhardiness. I have endured many incidents but one must remember there is a limit to my endurance. Once the limit is crossed, I believe all of you will go to New Delhi with me. If they think they can put me in jail, I will stay in the jail of the masses and have some rest.”
“But you can’t stop me. I don’t care. Even if everybody in this country keeps mum out of fear, I will not stay mum. I will fight against injustice. We are all brothers and sisters and we all have equal rights,” she added.
Assuring the minorities that even if everyone turned away from them, she would be there for their betterment and development, the CM said, “Don’t consider yourself underprivileged or that no one is there to speak on your behalf. Even if everyone falls asleep in fear, I will be awake alone and give equal security to all,” she said.