As India tries to contain the collateral damage inflicted by a BJP spokesperson’s obnoxious comments on Prophet Mohammed, veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah told NDTV in an exclusive interview that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should step in and "stop the poison".
"I would appeal to the PM to knock some good sense into these people. If what he believes is what was said at the (Haridwar) Dharma Sansad, he should say so and, if not, he should say so," Shah said. "I wish that the hate-mongers that the PM follows on Twitter…He has to do something. He needs to step in to prevent the poison from growing."
The government, going into damage control, had said the comments reflected the views of "fringe elements". "But the lady is not a fringe element. She is a national spokesperson," Shah responded. "It was an insincere apology, hardly meant to assuage hurt feelings. There are double standards working here," he said.
On Nupur Sharma facing death threats, he said it should be condemned. "To even think that way is wrong. That is why Pakistan and Afghanistan are in the situation they are in. We don't want to emulate these countries, but we are somehow doing so. People are killed on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow. These things happened in barbaric Islamic countries -- not India."
The actor said he also blamed news channels for the inflammatory narrative. "The hate is manufactured and it is venom that spews when you are confronted with an opposing view. TV news and social media are responsible for this," he said. Shah said despite everything, he did not feel marginalized.