Shabana Azmi Says Anyone Who Criticises Govt Called Anti-National, Quotes Faiz After Backlash
File image of Shabana Azmi.
Indore: Renowned actor Shabana Azmi has triggered a row after she hit out at the government for labelling people who criticise it as anti-national and said India would not improve unless people are free to point out its flaws.
"In the interest of our country, it is necessary that we also point out its shortcomings. If we do not point out the flaws, how would the conditions improve?" she asked while addressing a gathering in Indore after she was feted with `Kunti Mathur Award' for her work for women.
There is nothing wrong with talking about the shortcomings of one's country because it leads to progress, she said.
"But the atmosphere now is such that if you criticise, especially the government, you are immediately branded as anti-national. We should not be afraid of this. Nobody needs their certificate," Azmi said, without naming any political party or ideology.
"We have grown up in a `Ganga-Jamni' (composite) culture. We should not kneel before this situation. India is a beautiful country. Any attempt to divide people cannot be good for this country," the actor added.
Her comments triggered a backlash, with former union minister and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain retaliating. He said similar allegations were levelled by ‘award wapsi gang’ in 2014.
“Ab 2019 mein bhi yahi kaha ja raha hai. Aap kisi Sarkar ki aalochna kar sakte hain, Desh ki nahin (In 2019, similar things have been said. You can criticise a government, but not the country).”
Refusing to back down, Azmi said she lives in a free country and will continue to openly share what she feels.
Taking to Twitter, Azmi quoted couplets from a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, which reads, "Bol ke lab Aazaad hain tere
Bol zabaan ab tak teri hai... Bol ke sach zinda hai ab tak Bol jo kuch kehna hai keh ley [speak, your lips are free, speak, your tongue is still yours]".
Bol ke lab Aazaad hain tere Bol zabaan ab tak teri hai... Bol ke sach zinda hai ab tak Bol jo kuch kehna hai keh ley— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) July 8, 2019
The actor also pointed out that she had never shied from criticising the Congress too.
"For the record in Safdar Hashmi murder I took on HKL Bhagat of Congress publicly. I challenged Imam Bukhari on national TV for which he called me a naachnewali and was condemned by both Houses of the Parliament. Have spoken against triple talaq and halala repeatedly so who is selective?" Shabana Azmi asked.