Over 150 eminent citizens condemn attempts to intimidate and hound Javed Akhtar and Naseeruddin Shah


  • September 8, 2021
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On Tuesday, over 150 citizens from all walks of life have issued a press statement extending unequivocal support to poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar and actor Naseeruddin Shah and have strongly condemned the hounding and attempts to intimidate them for expressing their views on the Taliban issue. Both Akhtar and Shah have drawn flak from different quarters of both Hindu and Muslim community, for their recent comments in context of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

 

Javed Akhtar came under attack of the rightwing Hindu groups after he said in an interview to NDTV that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was not entirely different from the Taliban. Slamming the Taliban after it took over Afghanistan, Akhtar said in the interview, “Those who support organisations like RSS and Bajrang Dal need to do some introspection. How are they any different from them (Taliban)?”

 

Following this interview of Javed, the troll army of the Hindutva brigade started threatening and abusing him on social media platforms. Various leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party hit out at Akhtar accused him of disrespecting the Hindus by equating them with Taliban. BJP leader Ram Kadam threatened Javed that his films would not be allowed to be screened till he apologised to the RSS for his remark.

 

The signatories to the statement categorically stated that “We agree with his statement that irrespective of the religion in whose name they claim to speak, right-wingers — be they Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christians — share a common majoritarian world-view. This is particularly evident when it comes to their views on the status of women in the family and in society. The Taliban are but an extreme and violent version of the same common fundamentalist mind-set. It is not for nothing that many in recent years have referred to violent elements from the sangh parivar as the ‘Hindu Taliban’.

 

Just like the venal reactions to the interview by Javed Akhtar, sections of the Muslim community raised objections, trolled and abused Naseeruddin Shah for his views and comments. In a video released on social media, the veteran actor condemned the sections of Indian Muslims, who are “celebrating” the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, calling it “dangerous.”

 

The citizens group supporting Nasseruddin Shah said that “Shah is only re-iterating the long, vibrant and tolerant tradition of Indian Islam that has been in recent decades afflicted by the Saudi-exported Wahhabi Islam, a trend that large sections of Indian Muslims recognise and also deplore”.

 

The signatories includes former Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, child rights activist Cedric Prakash,  filmmaker Meera Dewan, historian Sohail Hashmi, Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, former IIT professor Dr Ram Puniyani, Irfan Engineer and retired DGP B Sreekumar.

 

The press statement and details of signatories is as follows:

 

We, the undersigned, support unequivocally the recent interview given by author and poet, Javed Akhtar to the media in the context of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. We strongly condemn attempts to intimidate him and affirm his right to speak his views.

 

We strongly disagree with those in the sangh parivar, led by a BJP MLA and other elements from the same wider parivar who have objected to the understanding of right wing supremacists, be it of the Muslim or Hindu kind.

 

In an interview to NDTV news channel, Javed Akhtar spoke with clarity and passion. We agree with his statement that irrespective of the religion in whose name they claim to speak, right-wingers — be they Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christians — share a common majoritarian world-view. This is particularly evident when it comes to their views on the status of women in the family and in society. The Taliban are but an extreme and violent version of the same common fundamentalist mind-set. It is not for nothing that many in recent years have referred to violent elements from the sangh parivar as the ‘Hindu Taliban’.

 

It is not insignificant that around the same time as the venal reactions to the interview by Javed Akhtar, sections of the Muslim community who have raised similar objections to recent comments by actor Naseeruddin Shah. In his video clip which went viral, Shah is specifically addressing the Indian Muslim community where he is warning Muslim compatriots against rigid forms of Islam, advising an espousal of modernity.

 

Shah is only re-iterating the long, vibrant and tolerant tradition of Indian Islam that has been in recent decades afflicted by the Saudi-exported Wahhabi Islam, a trend that large sections of Indian Muslims recognise and also deplore.

 

Signatories:

  1. Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM, ADC
  2. Aditi Chowdhury
  3. Aftab Khan, Journalist, Nasik
  4. A.J. Jawad, Advocate, Chennai
  5. Ajit Pandit
  6. Amir Rizvi, Designer, Mumbai
  7. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
  8. Anil Chandra
  9. AnjumRajabali, film writer
  10. Anubha Rastogi, Lawyer, Mumbai
  11. Arshad Alam, Academic/Researcher, Delhi
  12. Aruna Gnanadason
  13. Anuradha Kapur
  14. Apeksha Vora
  15. Ashok Maridas
  16. Askari Zaidi, Writer
  17. Atul Tiwari, Writer
  18. Aquila Khan- Filmmaker
  19. Aadya Pandey
  20. Aawaaz-Niswaan (Organisation)
  21. Ashhar Khan- Jaunpur
  22. B T Venkatesh, Senior Advocate,
  23. Bebaak collective (Organisation)
  24. Benson
  25. Brinelle D’souza, Academic and Activist
  26. Cedric Prakash, Jesuit and Civil Rights Activist
  27. Chayanika Shah
  28. Chirashree Das Gupta
  29. Cyrus Guzder, Philanthropist and Civil Rights Activist
  30. Deepika D’Souza
  31. Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) (Organisation)
  32. Dinesh Abrol, Professor ISID (retd), Chief Scientist CSIR-NISTADS (retd).
  33. Dipak Malik, Prof. (retd), Varanasi
  34. Dr. AsokanMundon
  35. Dr. S Faizi
  36. Enakshi Ganguly
  37. Farhat
  38. Farhan Rahman, Research Scholar, Ranchi
  39. Feroze Mithiborwala, National Convener, Bharat Bachao Andolan, Mumbai
  40. Forum Against Oppression of Women (Organisation)
  41. Gautam Bhattacharya
  42. Geeta Kapur, Art Historian and critique
  43. Geeta Seshu, Co-editor, Free Speech Collective
  44. Ghulam Moyiuddin Faruki, New York
  45. Gurumoorthy
  46. H. C. Satyarthi
  47. Hasina Khan, Feminist
  48. Harsh Kapoor, Independent Researcher, Delhi
  49. Hartman de Souza, Writer and Teacher
  50. Hindal Tyabji
  51. Imran Khan, Independent Theatre Artist
  52. Indira Chandrasekhar, Publisher and Activist
  53. Irfan Engineer, Director, Centre for the Study of Society & Secularism, Mumbai
  54. Irfan Khan
  55. J.S. Bandukwala, Professor of Physics (retd), Vadodara
  56. Javed Anand, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy, Mumbai
  57. John Dayal, Author and Activist
  58. Jyoti Punwani, Freelance Journalist Mumbai
  59. K. M. Shrimali, Professor of History (retd), University of Delhi
  60. Kasim Sait, Businessman, Philanthropist, Chennai
  61. Kavitha Lankesh, Filmmaker
  62. Keval Arora
  63. Kirti Singh, Lawyer and WomensRightsActivist
  64. Kumar Samatahala
  65. Lalita Ramdas, Peace Activist
  66. Lyndon Saldanha
  67. M.K.Raina
  68. Madangopal Singh
  69. Madhu Prasad, Professor (retd), Delhi University
  70. Madhusree Dutta
  71. Mansoor Sardar, Bhiwandi
  72. Masooma Ranalvi, Co-Founder, India Lead, WeSpeakOut, Delhi
  73. (Prof.)Mazhar Mehdi (JNU, New Delhi)
  74. Meera Dewan, Filmmaker
  75. Mohammed Imran, Lucknow
  76. (Prof) Mohammad Sajjad Aligarh Muslim University (AMU)
  77. (Prof.) Mohan Rao
  78. Mukhtar Khan, Mumbai
  79. Mukta Srivastava
  80. Mumtaz Shaikh
  81. Muniza Khan, Gandhian Institute, Academic & Activist, Varanasi
  82. NS Shankar
  83. Najid Hussain, USA
  84. Nandan Maluste, entrepreneur and civil rights activist
  85. Nagaragere Ramesh
  86. Nasir Tyabji, formerly with Jamia Millia Islamia
  87. P A Azeez
  88. P.K.Shukla
  89. Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist
  90. Parcham Collective
  91. Parthiv Shah, photographer
  92. Peggy Devaraj
  93. Persis Ginwalla
  94. Pradeep
  95. Pradeep E, Bangalore
  96. Premachandra U
  97. Priyanka
  98. Prabhat Patnaik, Prof Emeritus, JNU
  99. Qamarjahan, Lucknow(Prof.retd)
  100. Dr. Qaiser Shamim, Delhi
  101. Qurban Ali, Senior Journalist, Delhi
  102. QutbKidwai, Social Activist, Mumbai
  103. (Dr) Ram Puniyani, Author, Social Activist
  104. R.B.Sreekumar, former DGP, Gujarat
  105. R Manohar
  106. Rajinder Arora
  107. Ram Rahman, Photographer
  108. Ramachandran
  109. Ramesh Dixit. social activist and academician. Lucknow
  110. Razia Patel, Academic-Social Activist, Pune
  111. Romar Correa
  112. Rosey
  113. Rudrashish Chakraborty
  114. S.V. Raghurama Rao, Professor
  115. Sabah Khan, Parcham, Mumbai
  116. Dr. SabihaAlam, Academic, Delhi
  117. SachinChavan
  118. Salim Yusuf, Lawyer-teacher, Bhiwandi
  119. Sandhya Panaskar, Activist
  120. Sayed Riyaz Raheem, Poet, Mumbai
  121. Saurobijay Sarkar
  122. Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, New Delhi
  123. ShakeelAzmi, Poet
  124. ShaliniDhawan, Designer, Mumbai
  125. Shamsul Islam, Associate Professor University of Delhi (retd) and street theatre

practitioner

  1. Shama Angelina Chatterjee
  2. ShamimAbbasi- Ghazipur
  3. (Dr) ShahnawazAlam, Asst Professor
  4. Sheela Sridhar
  5. Shweta Damle
  6. SimantiniDhuru, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
  7. Sohail Hashmi, Writer, Film Maker, Heritage Activist, Delhi
  8. SubhanBande
  9. Suhel B
  10. Sujata Gothoskar
  11. Sumit Chowdhury
  12. Syed
  13. Syed Sarwar Hussain, Writer, Patna
  14. Syed Tehsin Ahmed, Political Activist, Delhi
  15. (Dr) TeestaSetalvad, Author, Journalist, Activist
  16. Tushar Gandhi, Peace, Rights and Liberalism Influencer
  17. Vasanthi Raman, (Prof., retd), New Delhi
  18. Vicky
  19. Vinita Balekundri, Maharashtra Hawker Federation
  20. VivanSundaram, Artist and Activist
  21. Wan Manan
  22. YaqoobRahi (Poet, Mumbai)
  23. Zafar Agha, National Herald, Delhi
  24. Zafar Bakht, Allahabad
  25. Zaheer Ali, Chairman, Centre for Promotion of Democracy and Secularism,

Mumbai

  1. ZakirSardarNaufil Arya, Poet, Agra
  2. Zoya Hasan, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)

 

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