The Shiv Sena on Monday said writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar’s comments comparing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to the Taliban were “disrespectful to the Hindu culture”, the Hindustan Times reported. The RSS is the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In an article in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana, the Shiv Sena asked Akhtar to introspect his comments.
In an interview to NDTV on September 3, Akhtar had said that while the Taliban was “barbaric”, those in India supporting organisations like the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal were “all the same”. He was speaking about the rising hate crimes against Muslims in India.
Akhtar warned that such incidents were “kind of a dress-rehearsal for becoming like full-fledged Taliban”.
In the article published on Monday, the Shiv Sena said that organisations like the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad wanted to ensure that the rights of the Hindu community were not suppressed.
“...They [the organisations] have never imposed any restrictions on women’s rights,” the article claimed. “The situation in Afghanistan, however, is gut-wrenching. People fled from their country out of fear, and women’s rights are being suppressed.”
The article also said that India was “tolerant in every way” and respects individual freedom. It noted that Akhtar had also criticised extremist views of the Muslim community as well in the past.
“However, comparing the Sangh [RSS] with the Taliban is not acceptable,” the Shiv Sena said. “Most people in our country are secular and will not accept the Taliban’s ideology. India is proudly secular despite Hindus being the majority community.”
Notably, in his interview to NDTV, Akhtar too had made a similar observation. “This country is basically a secular country...The idea of Taliban cannot appeal to an Indian,” he had said.
Meanwhile a Mumbai Police official told PTI on Monday that security had been beefed up near Akhtar’s home in the city’s Juhu area. The arrangements were made after BJP members held protests outside Akhtar’s home during the weekend, demanding an apology from the lyricist.
BJP MLA Ram Kadam on Saturday said that they will not allow screening of films involving Akhtar till he apologises for making such a comparison.
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”.