After a Pakistani minister expressed concern over the safety of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and asked India to give him adequate security, the actor said on Tuesday, "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 controversy over one of India's biggest and most adored celebrities is rooted in a magazine article he wrote last week titled 'Being a Khan'.
Rejecting the debate it has spawned as "nonsense", the actor said at a press conference in Mumbai, "I don't even understand the basis of this controversy. Ironically, the article I wrote - yes it is written by me - 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 very, very small gains. And ironically the same has happened through this article once again."
In the piece in Outlook Turning Point, the 47-year-old had written, "There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing 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. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave and return what they refer to my original homeland."
In reaction, over the weekend, Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who India holds responsible for its worst-ever terror attack, said the star could move to Pakistan. Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said yesterday, "He (Shah Rukh) is born Indian and he would like to remain Indian, but I will request the government of India (to) please provide him security."
The Indian government was cutting in its response.
"We are quite capable of looking after the security of our own citizens... let him (Malik) worry about security of his own," Home Secretary RK Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
(with inputs from agencies)