Mumbai, Sep.12 (ANI): As 'Dabbang' makes an impressive beginning at the box office, its main hero, Salman Khan, has courted an unwanted controversy again by speaking insensitively about the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that had left over 166 people dead and over 300 others injured.
He has invited criticism for allegedly stating during an interview to a Pakistani channel that the 26/11 attacks were hyped up because "elite people" were targeted.
"It was the elite that was targeted this time. Five-star hotels and all. So, they panicked. Then, they got up and spoke about it. My question is why not before. Attacks have happened in trains and small towns too, but no one talked about it so much," Salman reportedly told Pakistan's Express 24/7 channel in an interview.
Salman's reported comments have been described as "anti-national" by parties like the Shiv Sena, and even drawn strong words from Maharashtra's Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Chagan Bhujbal. It doesn't matter whether a big or small person has died. It's very serious matter for the country when somebody loses his life in a militant attack. We need to work together to root out terrorism, said Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
Bhujbal, however, called the statement "uninformed", as he remarked: "He is an actor. He does not have the information to make a comment on whether the Pakistani govt was involved or not. People travelling in taxis, constables, waiters, hotel workers, all lost their lives in the attacks."
The Shiv Sena demanded an apology from Salman Khan for the statement.
"The 26/11 attacks were a war against the nation. Salman should apologise for his remarks. Ambani was not staying at the CST, nor was Tata or Birla staying in Cama Lane," Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said referring to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Cama Lane, which were among the places primarily targetted by the terrorists.
The Bharatiya Janata Party also criticised Khan for his unwanted comments.
"26/11 attack was an attack on India. We cannot forget that Indian citizens were killed. This was not a small issue for Salman Khan to comment. This was an attack meticulously planned by Pakistan," said Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP spokesperson.
Special Prosecutor in 26/11 trial, Ujwal Nikam, described Khan's statement as naive.
"It appears that without knowing the details of the terror attack, the actor made such statements," said Nikam, adding, "I shall say these are childish remarks."
"They (terrorists) don't make any distinction between rich and poor. It is judicially established that the outcome was a deep routed criminal conspiracy hatched in Pakistan and the targets were deliberately selected to wage war against India," he added.
Eight of the attacks occurred in south Mumbai at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Orthodox Jewish-owned Nariman House, the Metro Cinema and a lane behind the Times of India building an St. Xavier's College.
Khan later opted to clarify his stand through Twitter. (ANI)