The march for tolerance led by the veteran actor Anupam Kher, has become a centre of a huge controversy after a female journalist working for the NDTV made serious allegations of being abused, heckled and threatened by those participating in the march.
The reporter, Bhairavi Singh, made a sensational allegation that she was subjected to abuses and intimidation merely because she made a point that issue of religious intolerance had left the Bollywood divided.
In a series of tweets, she said, “First was called a prostitute, heckled, chased just for saying that the Indian creative world is divided on this issue.”
Her later tweets said, “Shaken, scared by goons who didn’t understand a word of what I said at the March. I was thrust a poster in my face, told I’m a paid journalist- asked to wear a congress cap. Being proud Hindu means terrorising anyone who says anything
@AnupamPkher I was abused, heckled, pushed by educated people and a mob. ”
The reporter, in her last tweet, alleged that she was being ‘teerorised’ on twitter ‘just for giving my point of view !’
Sonia Singh, the channel’s editorial director, tweeted, “Some ‘tolerant’ people at today’s match gherao our female reporter, abuse her. Unacceptable behaviour !”
Aam Aadmi Party MLA and the former Delhi Law Minister, Somnath Bharti asked if the Delhi police would file an FIR against those who had committed the crime of what may be termed as ‘outraging the modesty of a woman.’
Would Delhi Police dare/care to file a FIR against the perpetrators of this shameful act and arrest the guilty???? https://t.co/zJg9V6AOfe
— Adv. Somnath Bharti (@attorneybharti) November 7, 2015
The BJP supporters were quick to rubbish the claims. A twitter user also known for his support for the BJP, Pawan Durrani, questioned the NDTV’s Editorial Director if they had the footage to substantiate the reporter’s claims.
Sonia replied in affirmative, “Yes, Pawan we have footage.Sadly, she had to be rescued by police & other media people. Unacceptable behaviour.”
The march was organised by Kher and several other predominantly disgruntled members of the Bollywood fraternity to protest against those dozens of eminent intellectuals who had returned their national honours.
Billed as ‘March for India’, among those also who took part in Saturday’s march were former Bollywood singer Abhijeet, little known singer from Uttar Pradesh and Malini Awasthi.
Abhijeet said those who were returning awards were ‘anti-national.’
Kher, also a known BJP sympathiser is the husband of the BJP MP, Kirron Kher.
Later in the day, the veteran actor met President Pranab Mukherjee and said he had a “great meeting” where he raised concerns about the ‘award wapsi’ by a string of artistes, who find “intolerance” in the country.
“We had a great meeting with honourable President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He said ‘Awards are given by nation not by governments. 🙂 #MarchForIndia,” Kher tweeted.
“Happy to share that PM Narendra Modi ji is meeting us at 6.30 p.m. #MarchForIndia #IndiaIsTolerant,” 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 Bhattacharjee.
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.