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SRK to Sena: Should I retract that I’m an Indian?

After Shah Rukh Khan refused to apologize for his comments on Pakistani cricketers, Uddhav Thackeray has told NDTV “If SRK doesn’t retract his statements, I cannot guarantee anything.”Thackeray said to NDTv’s Barkha Dutt, “We don’t enjoy this sort of tension either. Where was the need for Shah Rukh to make those comments?” Thackeray denies that the Sena is targeting Khan because the actor is a Muslim. He said, “There are Muslims in the Sena too. This is not a fight about a religion…it is a fight about two nations.

Thackeray’s Shiv Sena has sent letters to cinema-owners in Mumbai, ordering them to remove posters of Shah Rukh’s forthcoming release, My Name is Khan. Cinemas have also been warned not to screen the Karan Johar-directed film, scheduled for release on Friday, February 12.

The maharashshtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has said that strict action will be taken against anyone who tries to disrupt screenings of My Name is Khan. In Pune on Thursday, Chavan said, “On this issue, we are keeping an eye on everything they’re (the Sena) saying. Let them do or say anything illegal and we won’t be hesitant to take action against them …anyone breaking the law won’t be spared.

At a press conference in Londan on Wednesday, Shah Rukh said, “I think what I said is true of any person from any nation from india, Pakistan, Bangladesh, America, England. That’s how I think we’ve all been brought up. You say ‘ok, my country is nice, I’m very proud of it, I’m very proud to have been born there and I wish a lot of people come to my country and participate in the goodness of my country.’ If that is wrong then I think I need to relook (sic) at what my children are studying right now. I need to even ask people who think the statement is wrong ‘do they have an issue with the schools their children are going to?’ Because that’s what they are being taught also. It’s not a stand or a statement against anyone. It’s actually, sort of what I individually feel and normally when a film is releasing – and I won’t comment on this on a larger scale, because, it’s nice for a Hindi film hero who is thought of as an icon to say this, but it scares me to say anything, because our stakes are very high. I’m really sorry. I would like to apologize to Karan Johar (the director), I apologize to Kajol and I’m immensely sorry to all our business partners that because of what I say or what I believe in the film and the work is going to be affected.

The controversy began when SRK, in an interview to NDTV’s Prannoy Roy, said that he thinks Pakistani players should participate in the Indian Premiere League (IPL). At the auction for players for the next season of the IPL, 11 Pakistani cricketers were up for sale, but no bids were placed for them.

The Shiv Sena has since attacked Shah Rukh on a near-daily basis. On Thursday, Uddhav Thackeray told NDTV, “I am not attacking Shah Rukh because he is a Muslim…where was the need for him to make those comments?

Referring to the Aman ki Asha initiative, which is bringing Pakistani artistes to perform in India, Thackeray said, “Did we stop Aman ki Asha?  But are our artists allowed to perform in Pakistan?

The government has also said it will provide security to theatres screening the film.  However, with the Sena making it clear that it will not allow theatres to show the film, producers and distributors worry that the film’s release may have to be postponed.

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