By Special Correspondent
Mumbai : Over 150 citizens from all walks of life on Tuesday condemned outright the hounding of intellectuals, poets and actors, both Javed Akhtar and Naseeruddin Shah by the communal forces. In a joint statement, they expressed solidarity with Akhtar saying they strongly condemned attempts to intimidate him and affirm his right to speak his views.
While criticizing Taliban, Akhtar equated the Afghan group with RSS that enraged proponents of Hindutva. Shiv Sena, an estranged ally of BJP, came out in support of RSS. Prominent activists, academics and journalists said they unequivocally support the recent interview given by author and poet, Javed Akhtar to the media in the context of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. They came down heavily on the BJP MLA, who led a group to intimidate the poet.
“We strongly condemn attempts to intimidate him and affirm his right to speak his views. We strongly disagree with those in the sangh parivar, led by a BJP MLA and other elements from the same wider parivar who have objected to the understanding of right wing supremacists, be it of the Muslim or Hindu kind”.
In an interview to NDTV news channel, Javed Akhtar spoke with clarity and passion.
“We agree with his statement that irrespective of the religion in whose name they claim to speak, right-wingers — be they Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christians — share a common majoritarian world-view. This is particularly evident when it comes to their views on the status of women in the family and in society. The Taliban are but an extreme and violent version of the same common fundamentalist mind-set. It is not for nothing that many in recent years have referred to violent elements from the Sangh parivar as the ‘Hindu Taliban’”, the statement reads.
The statement also extended actor Shah objectionable video statement in which he ho made unnecessary and unfounded comments that shows his ignorance about the Indian Muslims and Islam.
“It is not insignificant that around the same time as the venal reactions to the interview by Javed Akhtar, sections of the Muslim community who have raised similar objections to recent comments by actor Naseeruddin Shah. In his video clip which went viral, Shah is specifically addressing the Indian Muslim community where he is warning Muslim compatriots against rigid forms of Islam, advising an espousal of modernity. Shah is only re-iterating the long, vibrant and tolerant tradition of Indian Islam that has been in recent decades afflicted by the Saudi-exported Wahhabi Islam, a trend that large sections of Indian Muslims recognise and also deplore, the statement further said.
A Muslim community leader said if Naseeruddin Shah would have confined in his condemnation of Taliban, no body from the community had reacted on it but he dragged Islam and the Indian Muslims unnecessary just in order to show the liberal quarters that he is equally harsh to Muslims too. .
Among those who signed the statement are Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas.,. Aditi Chowdhury,. Aftab Khan, A.J. Jawad, . Ajit Pandit,. Anand Patwardhan, Anil Chandra, Aadya Pandey, Aruna Gnanadason, Cedric Prakash, Chayanika Shah,. Chirashree Das Gupta, . Hindal Tyabji and others.