Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was forced out of a Ramleela in his hometown of Budhana, Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday by Shiv Sena workers 'because he is a Muslim'. Siddiqui, who was supposed to play Ravan’s uncle Marich, said, “My childhood dream could not come true, but will definitely be a part of Ramleela next year.” He said he got support from the local administration and residents, but after understanding the situation, he decided to maintain peace and let it go.

The Shiv Sena members first said that Siddiqui could not be allowed on the stage because no Muslim had ever taken part in the Ramleela in the town. However, after being cornered by local residents who protested against the move, the workers said their decision was based on a recent complaint against the actor by his sister-in-law, who has accused him and his family of demanding dowry from her.

Mukesh Sharma, Muzaffarnagar's Shiv Sena chief, told The Times of India: "We could not have allowed Nawazuddin Siddiqui to perform in the Ramleela for many reasons. Firstly, there is a complaint at the police station against him and his younger brother by his sister-in-law for dowry. We cannot let anyone who has such charges against him perform as a character in the Ramleela. Also, he is a Muslim and till date no Muslim has played any role in the Ramleela in Budhana."

Sharma said the local police station was only informed that Siddiqui was performing a few hours before the show, while they should have been approached for permission well in time. “No one came to us for permission, which they should have done ideally, two days prior to the event,” he told The Indian Express.

Damodar Sharma, president, Shri Ramlila Committee Pradarshan (Budhana), said Muslims have not played a lead role in the local Ramleela for the past 50 years, but "Marich does not qualify as one of those". Muslims have performed as background dancers, including this year, he said. "So I don't understand what the problem of the Shiv Sena members really is. When the district administration told us to cancel his role to ensure law and order, we agreed to it."

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is forms the ruling alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, also criticised it for the not allowing Siddiqui to perform. The vice president of the party for western UP, Jitendra Tyagi, said the Shiv Sena has "hardly has any presence or influence" in UP and "all they do is stop cattle trucks". Tyagi said they were disappointed that Siddiqui could not perform, but they could not have taken a chance in case the situation went out of hand.