Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said the Centre does not support Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray's proposal asking filmmakers to donate Rs 5 crore to the Army for casting Pakistani actors. The minister was speaking on the sidelines of a Confederation of Indian Industries conference on the media and entertainment industry, IANS reported.
Speaking at a naval commanders' conference in New Delhi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar slammed the suggestion and said that all donations to the recently launched Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties were "purely voluntary in nature", The Times of India reported.
Naidu said, “That is a wrong proposal and we don’t agree with it. The Maharashtra chief minister [Devendra Fadnavis] has also clarified that he was not part of the proposal.” Naidu said Fadnavis had initiated a negotiation to resolve the issue. The minister said that while the country wants good relations with all its neighbours, "the neighbour too has to behave like a good neighbour".
Naidu's comments follow protests by MNS workers against the release of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan starrer Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Some of the right-wing party's workers warned the film's director, Karan Johar, against releasing the film. After a negotiation with Fadnavis, Thackeray announced that his party would not oppose the film.
The protests were a reaction to the Uri attack on September 18 and the Indian Army's announcement of its surgical strikes on terror launchpads along the Line of Control on September 29. India had accused Pakistan of being involved in the Uri attack, but Islamabad has dismissed the allegations as “baseless”. On September 23, the MNS had said given Pakistani actors a 48-hour deadline to leave the country.
On October 14, the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India had announced that it had asked its members not to screen movies featuring Pakistani, singers or musicians. The move came weeks after the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association banned Pakistani actors and technicians from working on projects in India.