Popular Sandalwood actor Chetan Ahimsa has now become the target of Hindutva outfits. On Sunday, members of one such outfit – Azad Hind Sena – tore posters and flex banners of the film Athiratha at movie theatres in Mysuru’s Chamarajanagara and in Bengaluru.
The members of the outfit alleged that the actor had “offended Hindus” by supporting the cause for a separate minority religion status for Lingayats.
Athiratha was released on Friday across the state. Members of the Hindutva outfit protested outside Simha Movie Paradise in Chamarajanagara and Santosh theatre in Bengaluru.
They shouted slogans and labelled the actor “anti-Hindu”. The members of Azad Hind Sena also demanded that the film Athiratha be banned. A few of the outfit’s members also tore the film’s flex banners.
A social media campaign was launched by a page titled Veera Kesari, which put out memes against the actor and also urged people to not watch Athiratha.
Speaking to TNM, actor Chetan refuted the outfit’s claims and said that the protests were a sign of intolerance. The actor said that the outfits were wrong in calling for a ban as it would affect the livelihoods of all those who have worked for the film.
“If their problem is with what I have said, I am ready to discuss it. But it is wrong to take it out on a movie I have acted in. I have been protesting against injustice and inequality for over a decade and I have worked with progressive groups. I have been involved in activism which believes in equality and social justice, the tenets of Buddha, Basava and Ambedkar and other people who are progressive and believe in equality. I joined the cause for a separate Lingayat religion in August this year,” the actor said.
Responding to a question about being labelled anti-Hindu, the actor said that he was not against Hindu religion but against Hindutva.
“There is a strong difference between Hinduism and Hindutva. These people (protesters) have no depth for the arguments they make. They cannot convince people through the democratic process where issues can be discussed. In order to threaten and scare, which seemingly shows the hooliganism, they assigned labels like anti-Hindu. They are twisting my words to make me sound like I am anti-Hindu, which I am not,” he added.
“I have never spoken against any religion or caste. My fight is against Hindutva not the Hindu religion. This has been hijacked by certain fringe groups and political elements to create a monolithic, intolerant and violent claim that they are preserving something that they believe is the Hindu religion. But what they are doing goes against the pluralism of Hindu religion. They have a problem with the fact that we are ideologically different,” the actor said.