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Sparking off a heated debate, veteran Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah recently expressed concern over mob culture in India. Dring an interview, the actor said that he feared for his children’s life in today’s India.

India Today reported Shah as saying that if an angry mob surrounded his children and asked them about their religion they would have no answer. “Are you Hindu or Muslim? My children will have no answer at this moment as we chose not to give a religious education to them,” he said.

Referring to a recent incident when a police officer was killed following the slaughter of a cow, Naseer said in India a cow being slaughtered is of more significance than the death of a police officer.

The Bollywood actor went on to say there is a “poison” that has spread in the Indian society. “It will be very difficult to capture this djinn [genie] back into the bottle. There is complete impunity for those who take the law into their own hands,” he added.


Naseeruddin Shah

Naseeruddin Shah with his family


Shah’s take on the growing atmosphere of intolerance and communal violence in India has led to a backlash on social media as well as by political parties as he is now being called a traitor. A day after his statement, the actor was forced to stay away from the Ajmer Literature Festival which he was expected to inaugurate.

Speaking at an event at his alma mater on Friday, Naseeruddin Shah clarified that he made those comments as a “worried Indian” and that he has the right to express concerns about the country he loves.

“What I said earlier was as a worried Indian. I have said this earlier as well. What did I say this time that I am being called a traitor? It is very strange,” Shah said.

Responding to a question about the backlash he is receiving on social media, he said, “I have to bear criticism. If they have the right to criticise, then I also have the same right. I am expressing concerns about the country I love, the country that is my home. How is that a crime?”

Watch his comments here: