New Delhi: Actor Kangana Ranaut kicked off a firestorm on Thursday for declaring that India attained freedom in 2014, when the Modi-led government came to power, and describing the country’s Independence in 1947 as “bheek”, or alms.
The “Manikarnika” actor, known for her provocative and often inflammatory statements, was once again the centre of debate – and ire. While the Aam Aadmi Party submitted an application to the Mumbai Police demanding a case against her for “seditious and inflammatory” comments, politicians across the spectrum, including BJP MP Varun Gandhi, were among the host of social media users and others who reacted with outrage at Ranaut’s comments on Wednesday evening.
AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon said the application requested action under Sections 504, 505 and 124A. “…Hope to see some action. @CPMumbai @DGPMaharashtra,” the party’s national executive member tweeted.
Section 504 of the IPC deals with “Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace”, 505 is related to statements to create “public mischief” and 124A deals with sedition.
BJP’s Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi shared a video of Ranaut’s remarks on his Twitter handle to make his point. In a 24-second clip distributed widely, Ranaut says India’s Independence in 1947 was not freedom but “bheek” (alms). “…Of course, azaadi nahi thi vo bheekh thi. Aur jo azaadi mili hai vo 2014 me mili hai (Of course, what we got [in 1947] was not Independence but alms. Independence is what we got in 1947),” she says in the clip from the event organised by a news channel. Some people in the audience can be heard clapping.
“It is an anti-national act and must be called out as such. To not do so would be a betrayal of all those who shed blood so that today we may stand tall and free as a nation,” Gandhi said.
People can never forget the infinite sacrifices of our freedom movement and the millions of lives lost and families destroyed, he added. Belittling it all in this “shameless manner” cannot be condoned simply as a careless or callous statement, he said.
“Sometimes an insult to the sacrifice and penance of Mahatma Gandhi, sometimes showing respect to his killer and now this disdain for the sacrifice of millions of freedom fighters from Shaheed Mangal Pandey to Rani Laxmibai, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and others… “Should I call this kind of thinking madness or treason?” the Lok Sabha MP added in Hindi on Twitter.
The ever combative Ranaut, whose Twitter account has been suspended, hit back on Instagram.
“Even though I clearly mentioned 1857 revolution first freedom fight which was curbed…
which lead to more atrocities and cruelties from the British and almost a century later freedom was given to us in Gandhi’s begging bowl… Ja aur roo ab,” she said in her Insta stories.
Ranaut, who was awarded a Padma Shri earlier this week, also targeted the Congress
In her remarks at the show. “If we get freedom as a ‘bheek’, is it even freedom? What the British left behind in the name of Congress… They were the extension of the British…,” she said.
Reacting to Ranaut’s remarks, Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said her statement has shown what happens when people who are not deserving of Padma awards are given these honours. “I demand that Kangana Ranaut should make a public apology to all Indians because of her statement, our freedom movement and our freedom fighters’ sacrifice were insulted,” Vallabh said.
“The government of India should take back the prestigious Padma award from such a lady who is insulting Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. If the government is giving her Padma award, it means the government is promoting these kinds of people,” Vallabh said.
What Kangana Ranaut has said is “direct treason”, he added. Several other Congress leaders also spoke out.
Gaurav Pandhi, the Congress’ digital communications and social media coordinator, said
the RSS could never accept the fact that their British masters were forced to leave in 1947.
“…Their slavery knew no bounds. No wonder they didn’t hoist the tricolour for half a century. The return of slavery in 2014 was their ‘independence’. Kangana Ranaut is just one of them.”
Salman Soz pointed out in his Twitter post that some people clapped when Ranaut said India’s real independence was in 2014 because 1947 was a charity case. He also recalled the millions who “resisted the British, those who were killed or jailed, those who loved India”.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi compared Ranaut’s remarks to another BJP member who recently claimed that India has been given freedom as lease for 99 years.
Chaturvedi said, “New Ruchi Pathak on the block. From 99 years lease to bheek main mili azaadi. All the blood, sweat and balidan (sacrifice) of our freedom fighters including Jhansi ki Rani dismissed to please the master. The WhatsApp history fans.”
Ranaut may not be on Twitter but her name was trending with many, including historian
Irfan Habib, weighing in with their views. “Shamelessness is abysmal,” Habib wrote. Actor Swara Bhasker, who also shared the video clip on her Twitter page, wondered about those who were heard clapping at Ranaut’s comments.
“Who are the idiots who are clapping is what I want to know,” wrote Bhasker, who has worked with Ranaut in the “Tanu Weds Manu” film series and has been a critic of the actor.
Others, too, were furious. “Will we now start celebrating a new Independence Day?” asked filmmaker Onir
Without naming the actor, badminton player Jwala Gutta wrote, “What do you call a person who only spews venom when she/he opens their mouth!!! Just curious!!”
Lawyer Aman Wadud said it was a well thought out statement from the actor. “Ground being prepared to attack the Constitution. Well-thought-out statement, don’t make the mistake to read this in isolation.”
Stand-up comic Kunal Kamra, a vocal critic of the government, put out this one-line post on Twitter, “Kangana is right India did get independence from common sense & rational thinking in 2014.”
Ranaut has often been in news for her headline grabbing and controversial statements– be it her long-standing fight with filmmaker Karan Johar on nepotism, locking horns with Diljit Dosanjh on the farmers’ protest, her Twitter comments criticising the ruling Shiv Sena government or comparing Mumbai to Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
She was given Y-plus category security by the central government after she said she felt unsafe in Mumbai following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and also spoke of drug use in a section of the film industry.
The actor’s account on Twitter was permanently suspended with the company saying it was done “for repeated violation of Twitter rules”
The move came after the actor’s vitriolic comments on the post-poll violence in West Bengal. She now posts her videos and messages on Instagram.