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In a transparent and honest interview, where his pain is clearly visible, one of India’s most highly regarded actors, Naseeruddin Shah, has said that if attempts are made for Muslim genocide and ethnic cleansing, India’s Muslims are going to fight back.
“If it comes to the crunch, we will fight back… If it comes to that, we will. We are defending our homes, our family, our children.”
At another point in the interview, speaking about members of the Dharam Sansad who 10 days ago in Haridwar called for genocide and ethnic cleansing, he said, “I wonder if they know what they are talking about? 200 million are going to fight back. We belong here. We were born here and we will live here.”
He said it could lead to a “civil war”.
In a 35-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, the central question posed was “what does it feel like to be a Muslim in Narendra Modi’s India?”. To this, he said, “Muslims are being marginalised and made redundant.”
“They are in the process of being reduced to second class citizens” and added, “It’s happening in every field.”
Naseeruddin Shah told The Wire that “a concerted attempt is being made to make Muslims insecure”. He said, “It’s an attempt to make us scared.” However, he added, “We should not be scared.”
“An attempt is being made to spread a phobia among Muslims”, but again, he added, “We must not admit this is frightening us.”
Naseeruddin Shah told The Wire, “I don’t feel insecure because this is my home”. But he added, “I’m concerned what will become of my children”.
Speaking to The Wire about the Prime Minister’s total silence after the bloodcurdling calls for genocide and ethnic cleansing, Naseeruddin Shah said “he doesn’t care” adding “at least you cannot accuse him of being a hypocrite”. Naseeruddin Shah said not only is there no chastisement of the people who threatened genocide “but the Prime Minister follows them on Twitter”.
He said: “Our leader keeps silent but claims to care for everybody”. “He’ll parade his own religious beliefs yet issue dog-whistles against Muslims.”
The above is a brief paraphrased precis of Naseeruddin Shah’s powerful interview. It only conveys a small part of the content. This is an interview that has to be heard and seen. It cannot be written about and described. Very few – if any – Bollywood stars of Naseeruddin Shah’s stature have spoken out the way he has. That alone makes it a rare and special interview. Its content also puts it on a different pedestal altogether.