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Persecution syndrome is the root of misguided outrage. Aamir Khan’s statement on ‘rising intolerance’ and his remark that his family fears living in India, has re-energised the Awardwapsi brigade and the Opposition, to highlight their fears of the ‘end of secularism’ to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This resurgence has come days after the Awardwapsi brigade stayed silent over the statements of Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid against Modi in Pakistan, even Shakeel Ahmad’s statement that the Centre treats terrorists differently on the basis of religion.
Aamir Khan has every right to express his opinion, but the ambiguity of his statement makes his remark seem alarmist, even political. Is Aamir Khan, a celebrated actor lauded by Indians from all communities, being persecuted in India? Can he enlighten his fans and the nation about the ‘threats’ his family and friends face in India? It would be a serious concern which needs to be highlighted. However, in the absence of that explanation, Aamir Khan’s statement seems ill-conceived. Meanwhile, he should also explain if he backs the Opposition’s argument that his statement reflects the sentiments of minorities in India. Does he feel that minorities are under threat across the country?
Aamir Khan is the spokesperson of ‘Incredible India’ and his statement has and will make international headlines, giving credence to the ‘intolerance’ narrative against the Modi government, even the notion that ‘things are worse than ever’. But does Aamir Khan truly believe that? Understanding his position in India, Aamir Khan should have measured his words reflecting the realities on the ground, the fact that incidents of violence and irresponsible statements do not indicate an all out communal war across the nation. Aamir Khan has lived through turbulent times and forgets that India’s secular ethos is tough. The ambiguity of his statement makes it easy for the Opposition and other groups to use it to bolster the ‘intolerance’ narrative, which is now being strongly contested by all sections of society. Yet the headlines are dominated by Team ‘Intolerance’, not those who have challenged the entire premise.
I guess Aamir Khan just needs a hug to feel safe in India again. The people of India will be more than happy to oblige.