Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ram Kadam on Sunday said that they will not allow screening of films involving writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar till he apologises for comparing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to the Taliban. The RSS is the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Akhtar had made the comparison on Friday while speaking to NDTV about the rising hate crimes against Muslims in India.
In a video message on Saturday, Kadam said that Akhtar’s comments were humiliating for RSS functionaries.
“Before making these remarks, he should have thought that people with the same ideology [as RSS] are running the [Union] government now and are fulfilling raj dharma [duty of governance],” said Kadam, who represents the Ghatkopar West constituency in the Maharashtra Assembly.
He added: “If their ideology was Talibani, would he have been able to make these remarks? This shows how hollow his statements are.”
Other BJP leaders from Maharashtra also criticised Akhtar’s comments. Former Energy Minister of the state, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, said that Akhtar should be sent to Afghanistan. BJP MP from North East Mumbai constituency, Manij Kotak, described the comparison as a “fictional script”.
On Sunday afternoon, BJP members also held protests in Mumbai demanding an apology from the lyricist.
A Bombay High Court advocate, Ashutosh J Dubey, said that he had filed a complaint against Akhtar with the Mumbai Police. Dubey, who describes himself as a legal advisor of the BJP in his Twitter bio, posted a photo of the online complaint against the lyricist.
‘Idea of Taliban cannot appeal to an Indian’: Javed Akhtar
In an interview to NDTV on September 3, Akhtar also criticised the “miniscule Muslim population” of India, who he claimed, were welcoming Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. “This country is basically a secular country...The idea of Taliban can’t appeal to an Indian,” he said.
However, Akhtar warned that incidents of hate crimes against Muslims in India was “kind of a dress-rehearsal for becoming like full-fledged Taliban”.
“Of course, the Taliban is barbaric and their actions are reprehensible, but those supporting the RSS, VHP [Vishwa Hindu Parishad] and Bajrang Dal are all the same,” Akhtar added.
Hate crimes against Muslims
In August, several incidents have emerged where individuals, often those affiliated to the BJP and Hindutva groups, have harassed and assaulted Muslims.
On August 29, police in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain district arrested two men for threatening a Muslim scrap dealer to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and forcing him to leave the village.
On August 25, a Muslim bangle seller was assaulted by a group of men in Indore for selling his wares in a “Hindu area”. A widely shared video of the incident showed the man being beaten up while some in the mob were also seen taking money out of his pockets. Later, the vendor was himself arrested on charges of sexual harassment.
Two days earlier, a Muslim hawker was allegedly beaten up by two unidentified people in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh after he failed to show his Aadhaar card.
On August 8, inflammatory slogans calling for violence against Muslims were shouted at a rally at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, less than 2 kilometres from Parliament.
On August 6, Hindutva groups and other organisations held a mahapanchayat, or congregation, in Delhi’s Dwarka area to protest against the construction of a Haj House in the area. Videos from the event showed the protesters making communally sensitive comments and calling for violence if the Haj House is built. Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta was also present at the event.