“Returning awards is futile. It does not help anything. You will just insult the government and those who gave awards to you with love,” the 60-year-old actor said about several writers, filmmakers and others returning prestigious awards to express their anger against what they have called “rising intolerance.”
“They won’t listen to me, but we hope that they are not too angry, hope that they too are a little tolerant,” Kamal Haasan said at a function in Hyderabad to promote his new filmCheekati Rajyam.
“These people are talented they can find other ways to protest and fight against intolerance,” he added.
A debate on “intolerance” has raged nationwide after incidents like the murder of rationalists and mob killings over beef-eating and cow slaughter.
“Religious intolerance or intolerance of any kind is the worst thing and will take us to the dark ages,” said Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan yesterday, saying he admired those who returned awards, but would not return his own.
“Intolerance,” said Kamal Haasan, “has existed from 1947 and that is why we became two nations. Otherwise there would’ve been no Pakistan and India and we could’ve taken on even China.”
He said the protests must not be directed at one party.
The opposition Congress has seized upon the protests to attack the BJP-led government. Top Congress leaders will march to the Rashtrapati Bhawan today to appeal the President to “ensure an end to the atmosphere of intolerance”.
On Tuesday morning Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asserted that there is no intolerance.
“There is peace and harmony in the country. There have been incidents which should not have happened, but it is not right to make them an issue like this. Congress should tell us where there is intolerance. These incidents are taking place in states ruled by the Congress and other parties,” Mr Jaitley said.