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Ashutosh Bhardwaj | Indian Express | New Delhi | Nov 8, 2015:: Organised by the RSS’s cultural wing Sanskar Bharti, led by actor Anupam Kher, and ending with a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ‘March for India’ rally held here Saturday against artistes who had returned awards citing intolerance in the country was unequivocal about what it thought their colleagues were: “Traitors who deserved to be thrown across the Wagah border”.
No one was spared — historians, journalists or Shah Rukh Khan. “Dhongi sahityakaron ko, jute maaro saalon ko (Hit the fraud historians with boots),” said one slogan. “Presstitues suck up to Europeans, Presstitues go to hell,” went another.
“The day Shah Rukh Khan’s movie is released,” said actor Raja Bundela, “free tickets are distributed to Muslims.”
Later, after he had met a group of the marchers, Modi issued a statement saying, “Indian culture goes beyond tolerance, and talks of acceptance.” His office also released a photograph of the PM with the group.
Members of several wings of the BJP and RSS, and of the Akhil Bharatiya Kranti Dal headed by the party’s controversial MP Yogi Adtiyanath, were present at the march. Tweets by participants such as Kher and others were retweeted by the BJP’s official handle.
The country is more tolerant than ever, the marchers said, terming the writers, filmmakers and artistes who had returned awards as “deshdrohi (traitors)”. The crowd repeatedly broke into solgans of “Bharat Mata ki jai”, “Vande Mataram”, “India is great”, “India is tolerant”.
“Any brutal killing is condemnable. We strongly condemn it and expect swift justice. But in the garb of this, if some people attempt to defame India at the international platform following a well-planned strategy, then we should reflect on it,” read a memorandum, signed by several eminent personalities from the field of art and culture, which was submitted by the marchers to President Pranab Mukherjee. “We firmly believe that the protest of any writer should be respected… but if this protest is part of any specific plan, it should be exposed,” the memorandum said.
While a few thousand participated in the march from National Museum to Vijay Chowk, a delegation including Kher and filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar met the President and later Modi.
Sanskar Bharti South Delhi president Rekha Gupta, who is the mother of actress Esha Gupta, said, “The Sanskar Bharti has been given the task of organising this march. We will continue spreading ‘awareness’.” Kher and Bhandarkar were associated with the Sanskar Bharti, Gupta said.
While she accepted that the Sanskar Bharti was a cultural wing of the RSS, she claimed, “There is no politics (in the march). Today Indian pride has got bolstered before the world due to Modiji. Such incidents have happened earlier… (Mohammed) Akhlaq (who was lynched in Dadri) was not the only one who was killed. People are killed daily.”
They had mobilised all their resources, Gupta said. “I am the national president of the Mahila Agrawal Sammelan. It has 22 crore people in India. I have called all of them.”
Another co-organiser, Gajendra Solanki, who anchored the march, has been associated with various RSS wings. “The way the atmosphere has been created by the media and a few writers… it hurts us. We realised it was a conspiracy to defame India before the world and decided to counter it. The first meeting was held on October 28 and then a major rally was planned,” he said.
Eminent Kannada writer S L Bhyrappa said, “The people who had appealed to the US government to deny visa to Modi, when he was the Gujarat chief minister, are now tarnishing his image… They want him to fail. This is pure politics. We will not let this happen.”
Filmmakers openly targeted colleagues on basis of religion, which is largely unheard of in the tight-knit community. Playback singer Abhijeet, who has sung many of Shah Rukh’s famous songs, was among the most vituperative.
“He has become a hero from zero in 25-30 years. I have sung songs for him… ‘I am the best’ (a song from Shah Rukh-starrer Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani). Not he, I am the best. He should be proud of Hindustan. Hafiz saheb (Pakistan-based terrorist Hafiz Saeed) has invited him (to Pakistan). If he goes, we will go to drop him, and if he says take me back, we will not let him return,” Abhijeet said.
“This march will end when we drop such persons across the Wagah border,” he added.
“Shah Rukh Khan won’t speak about America where he was frisked twice. America must have some information which makes him keep quiet, Shah Rukh has his own compulsions. The day his movie is released, free tickets are distributed to Muslims,” said Raja Bundela.
“Hindi cinema has been divided into two ideologies, Left and others. Today we are questioning it. These filmmakers should make movies on Chandrashekhar Azad and Subhas Chandra Bose. This country has 80 per cent Hindus, their ideology cannot be termed communal,” added Bundela.
Asserting that India is tolerant, Abhijeet said: “It is our tolerance that we have not yet thrown Arundhati Roy, who moves around with Yasin Malik, Naxals, to the other side of Wagah border. The writers have been given money to protest. This country has given them food, awards. Still, they defame this country. We won’t spare them.”
Co-organiser Solanki claimed that many national award-winning filmmakers, writers, artistes had participated in the march. Those present included Hindi filmmaker Priyadarshan, Manipuri filmmaker Imo Singh, flutist Ronu Majumdar and lyricist Sameer.
Many admitted they came on the call of friends, and while they opposed the “award wapasi”, they also dissociated themselves from the loud slogans of the protesters. “Anupam Kher asked us to come. Filmmakers should not have returned the awards, but we are here only to oppose them. We are not into any politics,” said Mala Dey, who won national award for Hindi film Rudali.
(from Indian Express).
Express News Service | New Delhi | Nov 8, 2015: Even as the debate over “intolerance” raged, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Indian culture goes beyond tolerance, and talks of acceptance.
Modi said this to a delegation of comprising film personalities and intellectuals led by Anupam Kher who met him after they led a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan earlier during thje day.
Kher accompanied by other film personalities like director Madhur Bandarkar, Ashok Pandit, Priyadarshan, actor Manoj Joshi, singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya, academician Madhu Kishwar, along with hundred other supporters carried out a march in the Capital before submitting a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee. Kher said the matter of “intolerance” was raked by vested interests to present the country in a bad light.
Later in the evening, Kher along with artists and intellectuals met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and assured him of support.
A release from the PMO said, “the delegation expressed concern over what they described as a protest with a political agenda by a section of people to tarnish the image of the country, and derail the development initiatives of the Prime Minister.”
“The Prime Minister stated that Indian culture goes beyond tolerance, and talks of acceptance,” the statement added.
Emerging from meeting with PM, Kher said, “Prime Minister listened to us and said the intolerance issue was harming the country and its reputation.”
Kher added that instead of protesting whosoever has a problem must make an attempt to talk to PM and not wait for Government to contact. We have to express our anguish but nothing should come between us and integrity of nation to be discussed outside India in an intolerant manner, the actor added.
He added that PM had invited urdu poet Munawwar Rana to meet him. But instead PM saw Rana on TV saying,” if PM calls me, I will go &meet him”..My office got in touch with Munawwar Rana saying please come but he did not reply till now,” Kher added quoting PM.
As Kher met President Mukherjee he said, “President said that our constitution is written on a secular fabric and we should respect that. President Mukherjee said that awards are not given by the Govt but by people of the nation.”
The marchers handed over a memorandum signed by more than 90 personalities including actress Vidya Balan, Shekhar Kapoor, Kamal Haasan Raveena Tandon.
Kher’s march to Rashtrapati Bhawan was planned in favour of the government, days after when Congress led a similar march to President protesting against intolerance under the Modi government.
“India is a very tolerant country. Some people have coined the term ‘growing intolerance’. They are very few Not every Indian thinks like that. We are secular people. We do not believe in pseudo-secularism, selective outrage or selective patriotism,” Kher told reporters. His wife – Kirron Kher – is a BJP MP from Chandigarh.
Anupam Kher said he was not associated with any political party and the march was for India.
“We had a meeting with a lot of writers, artistes, filmmakers and they also believe that there is no intolerance in the country… This march is a symbolic gesture on part of a lot of people over here who say India is one and free of intolerance,” the 60-year-old said.
Madhur Bhandarkar, who was with Kher in the march alleged that those involved in the protest over intolerance had opposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi before he was elected, which raised questions about their intention.
“The projection that is happening for the past few days is very sad. The people who were against Modiji during elections are the same people who are coming out right now. The whole projection and narrative that is going abroad is wrong. It is a diverse country and of course there are incidents but we all condemn them. There is no two ways about it,” Bhandarkar said.
Film-maker Priyadarshan said the act of returning the awards is “childish”. Nalini of the acclaimed Kathak duo Nalini and Kamalini, also participated in the march and said that such events are the need of the hour. Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya also took potshots at people returning awards saying that such people who are protesting by returning awards will not be spared.
At least 75 members of the intelligentsia have returned national or literary awards in an escalation of protests by writers, historians, filmmakers and scientists over “growing intolerance”, voicing fears that the country’s robust democracy might be “coming apart” in the current atmosphere.
Meanwhile union ministers also attacked Congress and those who returned the awards.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said, “We are proud of all our award winners and if they feel that there is something wrong, then they must come and talk with us… But also, many of those returning awards are same people who opposed Modiji’s PM campaign in the past.”
(from New Indian Express)
Courtesy: The Sources above.