Updated: December 21, 2018 9:28:41 pm
Following protests by members of right-wing groups, organisers of the Ajmer Literature Festival Friday called off an event that was scheduled to be addressed by actor Naseeruddin Shah.
Shah’s remarks on mob violence triggered a row with right-wing groups protesting outside the venue where he was supposed to deliver the keynote address of the fifth edition of the three-day literature festival.
Raas Bihari Gaur, coordinator of the festival, said, “Shah was scheduled to inaugurate the festival but he did not come because of the protest by some locals over his comments.” He was also scheduled to launch his book in the opening session, which was also called off due to the protests. He said the festival, however, kicked off on Friday and will conclude on Sunday.
Referring to the Bulandshahr violence where a policeman lost his life to mob fury over alleged cow slaughter earlier this month, the 68-year-old veteran actor had expressed concerns over how “the death of a cow has more significant than that of a police officer” and how he doesn’t see “the situation improving anytime soon”. The actor added, “I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks “are you a Hindu or a Muslim”, they will have no answer.
Earlier in the day, Shah visited his alma mater, St Anselm’s Senior Secondary School, where he was asked by the reporters about the backlash he is receiving on social media following his remarks. “What I said earlier was as a worried Indian. I have said this earlier as well. What did I say this time that I am being called a traitor? It is very strange,” Shah said. “I have to bear criticism. If they have the right to criticise, then I also have the same right. I am expressing concerns about the country I love, the country that is my home. How is that a crime?” he asked.
Last month, a concert by T M Krishna was also cancelled by the Airport Authority of India following protests by members of the right-wing groups. Krishna was later given a stage to sing at an event hosted by the Delhi government.
(Inputs from PTI)
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