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Naseeruddin Shah says religion used to spread hate in India

January 6, 2019

Actor Naseeruddin Shah has spoken out in a solidarity video released by human rights group Amnesty. In the video, Shah said that there is hatred being created in the name of religion in India and that those who speak out are being punished.

Artistes, actors, scholars, poets are all being stifled. Journalists too are being silenced. In the name of religion, walls of hate are being erected. Innocents are being killed. The country is awash with horrific hatred and cruelty. - Naseeruddin Shah, Actor

Shah said that people who speak against this are being silenced in many ways. Their offices and homes are raided, licenses cancelled or bank accounts frozen.

"Is this where our country is headed?", he says in the video. "Had we dreamt of a country where there was no space for dissent, where only the rich and powerful are heard and where the poorest and most vulnerable are oppressed? Where there once was law, there is now only darkness."

Shah had created a controversy in December when he said that the death of a cow had more significance than that of a police officer. He was speaking about the violence that broke out in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, over alleged cow slaughter in the Mahaw village. Two men were killed, including a police inspector.

There was a strong reaction to his comments on social media, with people criticising Shah.

"Any awards for Naseeruddin Shah this time for endorsing Amnesty international and bashing his own country on an international front?", said Geetika Swami, while Aparna Jains said, "These people are insulting India on International platform. This people are working for particular agenda. We all know minorities are much safer here in India."

There were also voices of support. "He has a right to his opinion. It is worrying to see #NaseeruddinShah so disillusioned. This needs to be debated with civility. Without prejudging any issue, one thing has to be paramount. Rule of law. Everyone has to follow laws or face prosecution."

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