Under fire for his recent remarks against Indian soldiers, veteran actor Om Puri’s visit to the house of martyred BSF soldier Nitin Yadav in Nagla Bari village of Etawah evoked mixed reactions from the soldier’s family on Wednesday. While Nitin’s father Balbeer Singh, a farmer, said people should forgive Puri as he was apologetic, his uncle and state secretariat member of CPM Mukut Singh Yadav called the actor’s visit a “publicity stunt”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Yadav said, “Though I have heard that he said he will go to the house of each martyr, I am amazed that anyone will say anything to soldiers and get publicity. Later they apologize in such ways and get double publicity.”
Puri, who turned 66 on Tuesday, spent around three hours in the village, where he performed a ‘havan’ and apologised to Nitin’s parents.
Throughout his trip, he was accompanied by mediapersons. He performed a ‘shuddhi yajna’ as ‘prayashchit’ (atonement) for the controversial remark he had made against soldiers during a recent television chat show. The actor himself made all arrangements for the tribute, said sources.
“My comments are beyond forgiveness. Had I uttered those words in any other country, I would have been executed. I seek forgiveness and request you to accept me as a part of your family,” the actor told the soldier’s family.
“Wo aaye the kal. Humko kya pata kyu aaye the. Ro rahe the (He had come yesterday. How would I know why he came. He was crying),” said Usha Devi, who lost her son in a terrorist attack in J&K’s Baramulla on October 2. “He broke down in front of us. He is sorry for his recent insulting remarks on martyrs. It was his birthday yesterday, he told us. He claimed he has come for repentance, and not forgiveness. Still, we all must forgive him. It would a birthday gift to him,” said Balbeer Yadav.
In a recent live debate on the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association slapping an indefinite ban on Pakistani artistes, barring them from working on Indian projects, Puri had said, “Who had asked the soldiers to join the Army? Who told them to pick the weapons?”