Anupam Kher leads march against ‘awards wapsi’, meets president

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) Veteran actor Anupam Kher led a ‘March for India’ to protest against the voices being raised over “intolerance” in the country and later called on President Pranab Mukherjee for what he described as a “great meeting” where he raised concerns about the ‘award wapsi’ by a string of artistes.

“We had a great meeting with honourable President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He said ‘Awards are given by nation not by governments,” Kher tweeted after his meeting with Mukherjee at the conclusion of the march from India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhawan presidential mansion.

“Happy to share that PM Narendra Modi ji is meeting us at 6.30 p.m.,” he added.

Kher, who is a BJP supporter, on Saturday morning led a ‘March For India’ to Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest against the voices being raised over “intolerance” in the country. He was joined by filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar, Ashoke Pandit, Priyadarshan, actor Manoj Joshi and singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya.

Over the past few days, several writers, painters, filmmakers and scientists have returned their awards over fears that the country’s democracy might be coming apart.

Noted academician Madhu Purnima Kishwar of the Centre for Study of Developing Societies and founder of Manushi, a women’s rights journal, was also present at the march. She slammed both Congress and Left parties for bringing shame to the country through the series of ‘award wapsi’.

“People who are terming the current rule as fascism, do they even know the meaning of it? In India, even if there is one incident of atrocity, the whole country rises in revolt,” Kishwar said.

She opined that the ones who are returning awards were sleeping when big massacres took place through the 1990s.

“During the era of Rajiv Gandhi, dozens of riots took place, but their conscience didn’t move. But suddenly over one stray killing in Uttar Pradesh, where Samajwadi Party is in power, people are returning awards,” she said.

Kishwar further added that Congress and Left had monopoly over opinions, media, academia, cultural bodies and that monopoly is threatened by social media and also the appointments will not come to them.

“The kind of murderous mayhem CPM unleashed in Kerala or in West Bengal, they never protested. Suddenly one Dadri killing and their conscience has awakened. Congress is facing decimation,” Kishwar said.

Nalini of the acclaimed Kathak duo Nalini and Kamalini, also participated in the march and said that such events are the need of the hour.

“It is a must. When people express negative thoughts, it gives a wrong message. The awards given to the artistes, it’s an honour bestowed upon them by the country. It is inappropriate to return it. We always say that arts should enter politics, but here politics has entered arts,” Nalini said.

Lawyer Nupur Sharma, a former ABVP activist, said: “Such award returning actions are ruining India’s image on an international level.”

Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya also took potshots at people returning awards saying that such people who are protesting by returning awards will not be spared.

“We are not to leave people (ones who are returning awards) like this. They are anti-nationals. We are proud if we are called Bhakts,” he said.

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