Kamal Haasan’s Godse remark opens floodgates of protests

Chennai: January 2013 – Security deployed at Kamal Haasan’s house in Alwarpet after Muslim outfits sought ban on his film Viswaroopam for allegedly portraying their religion in a bad light. Cases were filed against the actor-filmmaker then. Eventually, the protestors calmed down after Kamal agreed to edit and remove ‘offensive’ contents.

May 2019 – Security deployed at Kamal Haasan’s house in Alwarpet after Hindu outfits threaten protests for his remarks at an election campaign in Aravakurichi. The Makkal Needhi Maim (MNM) president had said that independent India’s first terrorist was a Hindu and his name was Nathuram Godse. Cases are filed across the nation against Kamal. His effigies were burnt and protesters want him to tender apology.

Kamal and controversies go hand-in-hand. Several of his films in the past had got him bouquets and brickbats. If his career in cinema was controversial, so has been his political journey, say observers.

Addressing an election campaign in Aravakurichi 12 May, Kamal said he was one of those “proud Indians” who desired an India of equality and where the “three colours in the tricolour remained intact”, in an obvious reference to different faiths. “I am not saying this because this is a Muslim-dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Independent India’s first extremist was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it starts,” he said.

It had immediate repercussions. The Hindu Sena filed a criminal case in the Patiala Court in New Delhi against the MNM leader for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus by associating terrorism with Hindu religion.

At Aravakurichi, Hindu Munnani activist K V Ramakrishnan filed a case with the local police under two IPC sections. The case has been registered under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings).

His remarks brought in political reactions, too. Tamilnadu unit president of the BJP, Tamilisai Soundararajan, tweeted, ‘Standing amidst minorities in TN by-election campaign, he is lighting a dangerous fire to gain votes by minority appeasement. Kamal didn’t opine on recent Sri Lanka bomb blast, why?’

Going a step further, State Minister Rajenthira Bhalaji said, “Kamal Haasan’s tongue should be cut off for his remarks on Hindu terror.”

Interestingly, when DMK was maintaining silence over the issue, its allies, the Congress, VCK, MDMK and Veeramani’s Dravidar Kazhagam, have sprung to Kamal’s defence.

Speaking to News Today, Murali Abbas of MNM said, “Kamal Haasan was very clear. People should watch his entire speech. He was just making a reference. If calling Hindu terror was seen as grave mistake, the word Islamic terror used by Tamilisai is equally bad.”

When contacted, Narayanan, a spokesperson of the TN BJP, said, “We never called all Muslims terrorists. But religion is used by them to propagate terror across the globe. India is a peaceful country thanks to Hindu culture and traditions. Unfortunately, by making such comments in public, Kamal Haasan is trying to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims for electoral gains.”

Kamal Haasan has been maintaining silence ever since the controversy broke out. All eyes are on Thiruparankundram where he will address an election meet later today. Will he clarify? The wait begins.

MODI’s STRONG REPLY

“No Hindu is a terrorist. If he is an extremist, he cannot be a Hindu,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was answering to a question on Kamal Haasan’s recent remarks. “Hinduism believes in peace. It propagates that the whole world is one family,” he added.

PIL IN COURT

A Delhi court has refused to entertain a PIL against Kamal’s comments.

M BHARAT KUMAR