Dear Naseeruddin saheb,
In a video that surfaced a few days ago, you are heard claiming that you are scared for your children’s lives. You have emphatically asserted that you have no idea what your kids would do if a mob surrounds them and asks them if they are Hindu or Muslim since they have been brought up without religion. Naseeruddin saheb, with a heavy heart, I must admit that I agree with you. I am scared of the atmosphere of hate in this country, and our neighbouring countries.
I recall a 2017 terror attack in Bangladesh. When five armed Islamist terrorists stormed a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 1 July 2016, 29 people lost their lives. We all remember visuals of the blood, the death and the destruction. From the ashes, rose a story that sent a chill down my spine. I remember the chilling words of a survivor – “He asked me what my name was. I just said my name was Shishir – I didn’t tell him my second name because that would have revealed that I’m Hindu.”
Shishir hid his last name because he didn’t want the terrorists to know he was Hindu. “All my life I’ve had Muslim friends, so I knew some Surah [chapters of the Koran]. But I was so frightened. I was thinking – would I satisfy him?” This is what he said in an interview narrating how he was asked to recite verses from the Quran. He even ate with this terrorists because he didn’t want them to find out that he wouldn’t be fasting the next day.
This is not my county. These are not my country’s Muslims. These are not my country’s ethos. But, when I hear secular people like yourselves oppose the National Registry of Citizens so Bangladeshis and Rohingyas, who pose a national security threat can be sent back to wherever they came from, I almost can’t sleep at night. I wonder, what would happen if “secular” and “concerned” citizens like yourself turn my beautiful, tolerant country into another Bangladesh. Or worse.. Pakistan where religious minorities have been killed, raped and discarded.
You see, Naseeruddin saheb, I fear you are nobody’s ally. Like the famous Aamir Khan dialogue from your own movie, Sarfarosh, I daresay, “Tum Jaise Log Dushman Hote Hain Sari Insaaniyat Ke”. I am acutely aware that your statements are not directed to the benefit of Hindus. You have repeatedly insinuated that Muslims are at risk in India. But people like you don’t care about Muslims. Your own brethren. The minorities you so wish to protect. You once said that Indians are being brainwashed into believing that Pakistan is the enemy. I understand why you would say that. After all, you are wildly popular in Pakistan because of your inane rants. But the bullet that is fired from a Pakistani terrorist’s Kalashnikov doesn’t really kill by religion. See, their love for fellow Muslims is far diminished by their hate from anyone from India, the ‘kafir state’. For them, a Muslim fighting for his motherland is as much a kafir as a Hindu, who might join your idiotic cacophony.
When rifleman Aurangzeb was brutally murdered by gun-wielding, Pakistan sponsored terrorists, you did not utter a word publicly. I checked. There could be several reasons for it. Either, Pakistani terrorists killing Aurangzeb didn’t suit your larger agenda. Or, you harbour the same sentiment as Pakistan, the terrorist nation you have praised several times, all the while, demonising India.
You see, you talk-up a country that even refused to claim their soldiers’ bodies after the Kargil war. They were dispensable tools for the terror nation. Their families didn’t matter. The mothers who would wait for their son did not matter. We live in a country where 50 villagers returned from the gulf to avenge Aurangzeb’s murder at the hand of Pakistani terrorists. The entire nation wept for Aurangzeb. The nation did not have a religion when it came to its brave son. Intolerance, you say?
I agree with you Naseeruddin saheb. I am scared of living in today’s India too. I am scared because people like you like to walk all over this beautiful country while praising a barbaric, parody nation. I fear, that your voice is too loud. I fear that you might succeed, someday, in turning India into Pakistan.
India has her share of problems, just like any other country, Naseeruddin saheb. Where we have Muslims who smuggle cows and kill policemen in the process, we have cow owners who take the law into their own hands sometimes. Mind you, the cow owners can be Hindu or Muslim. Where we have Hindu sadhus who are killed for their cow protection stand, we have Muslims who protect cows as well. Have we ever heard you, Naseeruddin saheb talk about Salim Ali and Mintu Ali? The cattle traders who were killed by cattle smugglers?
I am scared of living in this India because motivated hate mongers like you like to focus only on one aspect and not the other because it suits your political, hateful agenda. You see, Naseeruddin Saheb, you are lying when you say you don’t have a religion. You are lying when you dress up your bigotry in eloquence. You like talking about “cow vigilantism” and not cow smuggling because you are a bigot. You like saying there is hate in the country NOW because earlier, while the problems that plagued India were exactly the same and not much has changed since 2014, you liked the political dispensation. You incite hate because hate fuels your business. If everyone was fair and everyone spoke of injustice regardless of political dispensations, who would even bother listening to a has-been like you?
Modi bashing is good business. Intolerance is good business. Talking about the “despicable majoritarian India” is good business. In fact, I think people like you smack your lips when you see the possibility of hate. Every possibility of hate means a revenue boost for attention seekers like yourself. You are not a concerned citizen, Naseeruddin Sabeh. You are a good businessman and hate, is your only currency.
I am scared of living in this India too, Naseeruddin saheb. I am scared because the media feeds hate mongers like you. I am scared because you get a mic willingly. I am scared because the equally hateful media amplifies the voice of bigots like you. I am scared because I shudder to foresee an India where people like you prevail.
The fact is, Naseeruddin saheb, today, you are a “star” and someone who can spout nonsense with impunity because it is the tolerant Hindu that made you a star. In any other country, no other majority people would continue to tolerate the constant demonisation by the likes of you and this is not limited to religion.
I would end this letter to you with a famous dialogue of yours from your movie Hero Hiralal.
Yeh hai mere dost, khate nahi ghost … naam ka Bhagwan hai, dil ka insaan hai … is hi ki meharbaani se gadha pehalwan hai – Naseeruddin Shah, Hero Hiralal
I am scared too, Naseeruddin saheb. I am scared of people like you and that, Hindus and Indians at large are tolerant enough to put you on a pedestal even when you continue to demonise us.