The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Aamir sticks up for Narmada

New Delhi, April 8: When it comes to getting openly involved with social causes, Aamir Khan is a tad hesitant.

It’s not that he feels he might get stuck in something he might later regret. He’s just wary of a clich' ' celebrity endorsement.

Still, that didn’t stop the actor from coming out in support of Medha Patkar, who was hustled off to hospital after police descended on the fasting activist and others campaigning for rehabilitating those being displaced by the rise in the Sardar Sarovar dam’s height.

Aamir was keen to know about Medha and the fasting protesters of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

“They are all farmers thrown out of their homes and land. It is an outrage. I wanted to meet Medha but she is in hospital. I will come back. Rehabilitation of the displaced is a crucial issue,” Aamir said.

Although he discussed his concerns with a group of journalists today, Aamir normally keeps his involvement with social causes hidden from media glare. He has never, for instance, advertised his engagement with 23 kids from Qasimabad, Gujarat.

After the 2002 riots, Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad brought these orphaned kids to Delhi but had no idea how to organise resources to fund their education and stay. Aamir quietly stepped in.

“After the riots, I wanted to do something, speak out. Believe me, if I was a Hindu I would have spoken against it 10 times more vociferously than I did at the time. I thought people would assume I am saying things because I am a Muslim,” the actor told the journalist.

“Honestly, I think what happened in Gujarat was a shame for every Indian. People who died' were killed, they were Indians and it is a shame that we as a society allowed that carnage.”

He wanted to help and Shabnam approached him with a request to fund the kids’ education.

“I, like so many others, wanted to engage in some manner and help but didn’t know how. I think one effective way of going about it is to channelise resources into organisations that are already working,” Aamir said.

The problem, according to the actor, is that information on what is happening across the country and how to intervene are not readily available because of the media’s obsession with fashion and glamour.

“It is obscene, this obsession with fashion and film stars. I want to know what happened in Assam, students were fired at by the police. And I have to ask around. The newspapers don’t tell me that. They are busy writing about some fashion event,” he said.

“I’m not saying that they shouldn’t do that, but isn’t their main job to inform and educate'” the actor signed off.

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