MUMBAI: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has insisted he is “safe and happy” in India in a bid to end a controversy sparked by an article he wrote on being Muslim in the Hindu-majority country.
The piece led Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik to say that India should provide Khan with security. India’s Home Secretary R.K. Singh responded curtly that Pakistan should look after its own citizens.
Reading out a lengthy statement to journalists late on Tuesday, Khan said his piece in the magazine Outlook Turning Points had taken an “unwarranted twist”.
“Nowhere does the article state or imply directly or indirectly that I feel unsafe, troubled or disturbed in India,” he said.
In the magazine piece, he wrote that he sometimes became “the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India”.
The Indian actor said he had occasionally been accused of bearing allegiance to Muslim-majority Pakistan, and had been urged by leaders at political rallies to leave India and return to what they called his “original homeland”.
Khan has been targeted by the Shiv Sena, a far-right Hindu nationalist party headquartered in Mumbai that has often pushed an anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim agenda.
The Shiv Sena threatened cinemas showing his 2010 film “My Name is Khan” after he spoke in favour of Pakistani cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League.
On Tuesday, Khan said it was “irksome” to have to clarify the “non-existent” issue sparked by his recent article.
“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.”
Khan emerged last week at the top of Forbes India’s first Celebrity 100 list, based on income and popularity, after he raked in an estimated 37.7 million dollars last year.
Khan is popularly known as ‘King Khan’ in the Indian film industry. He has acted in around 75 Hindi feature films, including many box-office hits.