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SRK answers ‘advisers’

- ‘We in India are extremely safe and happy’

Mumbai, Jan. 29: Shah Rukh Khan today responded with firmness and sadness to “unsolicited advice” being offered to him from across the border and within the country over an article he wrote for a magazine about his life as an Indian Muslim.

“I would like to tell all those who are offering me unsolicited advice that we in India are extremely safe and happy. We have an amazing democratic, free and secular way of life,” the actor read out from a statement this evening.

After the article’s publication in Outlook Turning Points, Hafiz Saeed, the Lashkar-e-Toiba founder and a 26/11 accused, said that if the actor felt unsafe in India, he could move to Pakistan. Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik too told reporters, apparently in response to a question, that India should provide security to Shah Rukh.

A few hours after Shah Rukh’s statement, Malik tweeted: “Let us not make fuss on the statement made by me or Mr. Shahrukh and let us create inter faith harmony where in we promote love and peace.”

In his statement, Shah Rukh said: “My own family and friends are like a mini India.… I stand indebted to my audience in my country and around the world. It is sad that I have to say it to prove it, in my country, which my father fought for, during the Independence struggle.

“We have an amazing democratic, free and secular way of life. In the environment that we live here in my country India, we have no safety issues regarding life and material. As a matter of fact, it is irksome for me to clarify this non-existent issue…. With respect, I would like to say to anyone who is interpreting my views and offering advice regarding them, ‘Please read what I have written first.’”

In the article, Shah Rukh had written: “I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India.

“There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing an allegiance to our neighbouring nation rather than my own country — this even though I am an Indian whose father fought for the freedom of India.”

The article has garnered much attention on social networking websites, with many criticising Shah Rukh for what they see as an expression of “victimhood”.

Shah Rukh said in his statement: “Nowhere does the article state or imply, directly or indirectly, that I feel unsafe... troubled or disturbed in India. It does not even vaguely say that I am ungrateful for the love that I have received in a career spanning 20 years.

“On the contrary, the article only says that in spite of the bigoted thoughts of some of the people that surround us... I am untouched by scepticism because of the love I have received from my countrymen and women.” Reporters were waiting to seek Shah Rukh’s response to the controversy as he arrived at this evening’s event at Taj Land’s End near his home in the western suburb of Bandra. But before the media could ask him questions, the actor said he would be making a statement.

“Ironically, the article I wrote was actually meant to reiterate that on some occasions, my being an Indian Muslim film star is misused by bigots and narrow-minded people who have misplaced religious ideologies for small gains... and ironically, the same has happened through this article once again,” he read out.

Shah Rukh said that from now on, he would only answer questions relating to movies “because I am an actor and, maybe, I should just stick to stuff that all of you expect me to have a viewpoint on”.

“The rest of it, maybe, I don’t have the right kind of media atmosphere to comment on. So I will refrain from it,” he added.