Saturday Feb 15, 2020
Acclaimed Indian author Javed Akhtar and film director Mahesh Bhatt have slammed the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for facilitating the rise of Hindu nationalism in India that has triggered a fascist-esque intolerance across the country.
In an interview given to renowned British-Indian journalist Mehdi Hasan, and aired by Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera earlier this week, the Bollywood duo condemned New Delhi for decisions taken over the past few months that raised concerns about an impending Muslim genocide.
Indian PM Modi had revoked the constitutional autonomy of occupied Kashmir in August last year and imposed a military curfew in the area. Earlier this year, the Modi government forced a controversial citizenship bill in parliament that discriminates between refugees based on religion.
The moves have been condemned worldwide, with politicians and celebrities alike slamming Modi for adopting policies that aim to marginalise the Muslim-minority of India. However, criticism from within India has largely been muted, out of a fear of far-right backlash.
When questioned about the fascist tendencies of the Modi government, Akhtar told Hasan that he believed Modi was a fascist. "Of course he is a fascist. Fascists do not have horns on their heads. Fascist is a thinking, and this thinking that we are better than others is fascism," he said.
"The moment you hate people in wholesale, you are a fascist," he added. Fellow Bollywood star Mahesh Bhatt, when asked about the rise of Islamophobia across the world, especially in the context of the situation in Kashmir, also agreed with the views of Akhtar.
“I think the winds of Islamophobia blew through the world after 9/11 and I think that phobia here, of Hindus being frightened of Muslims, is crafted by the media. The pliable channels are working around the clock to create ‘the other’ to stay in power," said Bhatt.
"Hate the Muslim is the lifeline of the Bharatiya Janata Party," he added. According to Bhatt, a lot of the celebrities in India had refrained from commenting on the hatred sweeping across India out of a fear of their films and their projects being targeted by the far-right.