Chandigarh,22 Feb( Sky news Bureau)
Actor Gul Panag is a part of Bollywood personalities who have spoken about latest social issues, including the ongoing farmers’ protest, when many from the same profession haven’t been vocal about it.
The former Miss India says she feels for the celebrities who stayed quiet because of fear of reprisals either from the Government or other authorities that have targeted them in the past. She adds, “I have sympathy (for them) and it is a personal choice to stand in support of something or stay silent as it is completely an individual decision”. She explained, “ In the UK, in the US we have seen a lot of known people taking a very public position against what the government of the time was doing; be it the ‘Black Lives Matter, or Taking the Knee’. They took a vigorous action against the officials, by speaking out their views. Here (why they don’t do it in India) is because of the fear of the institutions being weakened and not having the recourse to justice or just fear of being harassed”.
When international pop icon Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg supported the farmers’ protest, that is when celebrities, like, the great Sachin Tendulkar, current Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and some from the film sodality including Akshay Kumar and Karan Johar joined. The Indian celebrities copped a lot of flak for voicing their pro-government stance.
She, however, points to the fact that the only reason why some of the famous personalities who used to make fun of the previous government for rocketed fuel price are mum on the same issues today because they fear retaliation. “This is a government that rules by fear. The previous government could be mocked as they weren’t afraid. But clearly, this government is hypersensitive to mockery and they rule by fear. So they have instilled fear and effectively taken away your ability to speak on things that you want to speak,” she said on behalf of her fraternity.
“The manner in which pressure groups come after celebrities who have spoken out in the past is proof why they shouldn’t speak out. They have come after people like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and even Salman Khan. And the other very critical aspect is that something I learnt from my father (Lt Gen HS Panag). My father rose to one the highest position possible in the Indian Army. And he is a very outspoken person as he has always called spade a spade. And yet he was able to rise to the top how? Because he didn’t have skeletons in the closet. Point is that you can’t afford to have skeletons in your closet and then take on the powers that be,” she explained.