After bestowing upon desi Twitter that magical, much-wanted gift of an outrage-inducing trending topic, actor Aamir Khan issued a statement today in the hope that it will calm trolls and others down.
The controversy began at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, where Khan said he and his wife, Kiran Rao, felt there was “a growingsense of disquiet” in India.
In tweet-sized bytes, Khan’s concern was twisted out of shape and soon enough, his sentiment had been mutated into an admission that Khan and Rao wanted to leave India because it is intolerant. The resulting outrage meant countless angry tweets as well as a downgraded rating for the Snapdeal app (Khan is its brand ambassador). In Mumbai, Shiv Sena carried out a mock funeral of Khan. Maharashtra’s environment minister, Ramdas Kadam, said Khan should “go to Pakistan” and described Khan and his fellow actors Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan as “snakes”.
Earlier today, lawyer Manoj Dikshit filed a sedition case against Khan in a lower court in Kanpur. Dikshit told ANI, “He has created a sense of fear within the society by declaring India as insecure. His statement can cause differences between people and incite enmity between religious communities.” Considering how this entire controversy had begun with Khan talking about the growing sense of insecurity and fear in India today, it’s both ironic and curiously cyclical that Dikshit has accused Khan of creating a sense of fear.
Hours after news came in of the sedition case, Khan broke his silence. Here is the full text of his statement:
“First let me state categorically that neither I, nor my wife Kiran, have any intention of leaving the country. We never did, and nor would we like to in the future. Anyone implying the opposite has either not seen my interview or is deliberately trying to distort what I have said. India is my country, I love it, I feel fortunate for being born here, and this is where I am staying.
Secondly, I stand by everything that I have said in my interview.
To all those people who are calling me anti-national, I would like to say that I am proud to be Indian, and I do not need anyone’s permission nor endorsement for that.
To all the people shouting obscenities at me for speaking my heart out, it saddens me to say you are only proving my point.
To all the people who have stood by me, thank you. We have to protect what this beautiful and unique country of ours really stands for. We have to protect its integrity, diversity, inclusiveness, its many languages, its culture, its history, its tolerance, it’s concept of ekantavada, it’s love, sensitivity and its emotional strength.
I would like to end my statement with a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, it’s a prayer really :
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, Where knowledge is free, Where the world has not been broken up into fragments, by narrow domestic walls, Where words come out from the depth of truth, Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way, Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit, Where the mind is led forward by thee, Into ever-widening thought and action, Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.”
The case against Khan will be heard on December 1, in Kanpur.