Ashutosh Rana Backs Naseeruddin Shah: "We Should Listen To Him, Think"

Ashutosh Rana Backs Naseeruddin Shah:

NEW DELHI: Actor Ashutosh Rana has come out in support of Naseeruddin Shah, who is facing a backlash over his comments on mob violence in the country and also protests by right-wing groups. Ashutosh Rana said people should be able to speak their mind without fear or "social trial".

"Everyone should have a right to share their thoughts with their friends or other people without any fear. If our brothers or friends say something, we should not just listen to them but also think about it," Ashutosh Rana told reporters.

"If someone is speaking his mind and there is a debate, will it improve the country's economic situation," he added.

In an interview aired by a non-profit Karwan-e-Mohabbat last week, Naseeruddin Shah, 68, had said there were places in the country where the death of a cow is given more importance than that of a policeman. "There is complete impunity for those who take law into their own hands," he had said, apparently referring to the killing of a police officer in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandhsharh earlier this month in mob frenzy over the killing of cows.

"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. It worries me that I don't see the situation improving anytime soon" he added.

Naseeruddin Shah was instantly targeted by right wing groups; some asked him to leave the country. The Navnirman Sena booked him a one-way ticket to Pakistan and Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey likened him to a character he had played in the 1999 movie "Sarfarosh".

The veteran actor's keynote address at the Ajmer LitFest on Friday evening was cancelled amid protests by right wing groups including the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.

The UP administration has been criticized over its response to the killing of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh on December 3 by a mob that went wild over the discovery of cow carcasses. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in a meeting with senior officials just after the policeman's murder, ordered strict action against those behind the cow carcasses.