Days after triggering a controversy by raising concern over his children’s safety in India, actor Naseeruddin Shah has now raised his voice over “the curbing of freedom of expression” in the country. In a video released by Amnesty India, Shah is heard talking about how “artists, actors being stifled and journalists being silenced”.
In the 2-minute-14-second video, Shah starts by talking about the adoption of Constitution in India and then expressing concern over the oppression of the poorest.
“The Constitution of India was adopted on 26th January 1949,” Shah said. (The Constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949)
He added, “From the beginning, its core value aimed at ensuring social, economic and political justice for everyone in India. For everyone have the liberty of thought, expression, faith and worship. For everyone to be treated equally. For every person’s right to life to be respected. In our country, those who helped save the homes, lands and livelihood of the poorest, those who speak not just responsibilities but of rights, and those who raise their voice against corruption-they are safeguarding that same Constitution.”
“But now, those who demand rights are being locked away. Artists, actors scholars, poets are all being stifled. Journalists too are being silenced. In the name of religion, walls of hate are being erected. Innocents are being killed. The country is awash with horrific hatred and cruelty. And those who stand against this injustice are having their office raided, their licence cancelled, their bank accounts frozen, their voice silenced. Only so that they are deterred from speaking the truth,” says Shah in the video.
The actor ends the video raising questions over the rights of those oppressed and vulnerable. “Is this where our Constitution is headed? Had we dreamt of a country where there is no space for dissent? Where only rich and powerful are heard, and where the poorest and most vulnerable are forever oppressed? Where there once was law, there is now only darkness,” asks Shah.
In October last year, the Enforcement Directorate had raided Amnesty India’s headquarters and its director Aakar Patel’s residence in Bengaluru for allegedly receiving Rs 36 crore foreign funds from overseas in violation of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) guidelines.
In response to the raids, Amnesty had accused the Modi government of “treating” human rights groups like “criminal enterprises”. “We could not agree more with the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) when he says that periods of repression, like during the Emergency, have left a stain on India’s history. Sadly, those dark days are now casting a shadow over India again,” Amnesty had said in a statement.