Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said there should be no objections to anyone expressing their opinions after several people, mostly Hindutva supporters, lashed out at actor Deepika Padukone for visiting Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi on Tuesday evening to show solidarity with students and teachers attacked by a masked mob on January 5, PTI reported.

Padukone’s critics have called for the boycott of her movie Chhapaak. “Why only artistes, any common man can go anywhere to express his opinion, there cannot be any objection,” Javadekar said. When it was pointed out that several leaders of his Bharatiya Janata Party had also trolled Padukone, the minister told the media that he was speaking as the party’s spokesperson as well as a Cabinet minister. BJP leaders Sambit Patra, Ram Kadam, Ramesh Bidhuri, Tajinder Bagga and Shahnawaz Hussain were among those who criticised the actor.

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Padukone was in the capital to promote her new movie Chhapaak, which will be released on January 10. The Hindi film star went to JNU around 7.30 pm and attended a protest meeting, flanked by her publicist and manager. She left without saying a word after around 15 minutes, leaving the rest of the world to interpret her actions.

Padukone stood by as former JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar raised “azaadi” slogans, and also met current President Aishe Ghosh. Ghosh was one of the 34 people injured in Sunday’s attack.

On Monday, the 34-year-old actor had told NDTV that she was proud that people had come out to protest, and were not scared. “I feel proud that we are not scared,” she said. “I think to be able to express ourselves. I think the fact we are thinking about this and about the future of our country...it is nice to see people are coming out on the streets to voice this and express. Because if we want to see change, this is very important.”

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JNU attack

A mob – allegedly comprising Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members armed with sticks and hammers – attacked students on JNU campus on Sunday evening, injuring at least 34 people, including faculty members. The outfit is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s student wing.

Later, a group of right-wing activists sloganeering outside the university’s main gate heckled, abused and threatened several journalists who were reporting on the violence. Several eye-witness accounts and videos indicated that in most places, police personnel present at JNU did almost nothing to stop the violence, and, in fact, allowed the attackers to exit the university without apprehending them.

Members of the ABVP have blamed the violence on “Naxals” and leftist students. However, Scroll.in traced Whatsapp messages planning the attack – as well as celebrating it – to the Hindutva organisation’s activists.