- Naseeruddin Shah said more importance was given to cow's death than man's
- So much freedom that you can abuse the army, pelt stones: Anupam Kher
- In 2016 too, the two actors clashed on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits
The controversy over actor Naseeruddin Shah's criticism of the law-and-order situation under the Narendra Modi government continued to rage on Saturday, with Anupam Kher -- fellow-actor and vocal BJP supporter -- wondering how much more freedom he expected to have in a country where one could even "abuse" the army.
"There's so much freedom in the country that you can abuse the army, badmouth the air chief and pelt stones at soldiers. How much more freedom do you need in a country? He said what he felt like, that doesn't mean it's the truth," Mr Kher told reporters today. He was referring to the opposition questioning the authenticity of the cross-border surgical strikes; Congress leader Veerappa Moily calling the Air Force chief a "liar" for appreciating the Rafale verdict; and soliders being targeted by stone-throwers in Kashmir.
Mr Shah -- who has starred in Bollywood classics such as Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Ishqiya -- found himself in the centre of a raging controversy after he criticised the manner in which "the death of a cow is being given more importance than the death of a police officer". The matter under contention was the killing of a police officer by a mob in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr two weeks ago, after right-wing activists allegedly found carcasses of bovines near the venue of a Muslim function. Although the state government's response to his death was strangely subdued, an overarching probe was ordered into the alleged cattle slaughter.
The two actors had their differences on earlier occasions too. In 2016, the two actors clashed on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits. Years later, Mr Shah questioned his contemporary's long absences from the Film and Television Institute of India despite being its chairman.
Mr Shah's remark on the country's law-and-order situation spurred criticism from right-wing groups, with many asking him to leave the country if he was uncomfortable staying here. While BJP leader Mahendrananth Pandey said that he was growing into the character of the Pakistani agent he played in the 1999 movie Sarfarosh, Navnirman Sena chief Amit Jani even booked him a one-way ticket to Karachi. Yoga guru Ramdev, for his part, said Mr Shah's remarks on mob violence amounted to degrading the country's pride.
Today, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Mr Shah and his family need not fear because "tolerance is in the country's DNA".
(With inputs from ANI)