Actor and activist Aamir Khan has strongly condemned the murder of Abdul Hakim, a man who had spoken against the khap panchayats during his appearance on the former's popular show Satyamev Jayate a few months ago. Khan has asked the authorities to ensure safety to Mehwish, Hakim's pregnant wife and their daughter. He said that he has raised the issue at various forums and will try to bring justice to the victim's family. The involvement of Khan's name may have forced the Centre to express its intention to amend the Constitution on the honour killings and has sought a report from the UP government on Hakim's murder.
Hakim, 29, was shot dead by five men in his village in Bulandshahr in UP earlier this month and his wife Mehwish has alleged that some villagers threatened to kill her and her daughter as well. Hakim and Mehwish had left Meerut and got married in Nov 2010. Later, they went to Delhi. Even the duo's family was made to leave Meerut after the local panchayat ordered death for the couple and also threatened the family. Police, however, have not ruled out it to be a case of family dispute although the victim's family has claimed it to be honour killing.
Is Bulandshahr killing episode special because it has a mention of Aamir Khan?
Will the menace of khap panchayats be dealt seriously or just that the matter is getting more focus since it involves a Bollywood celebrity this time?
The second picture looks more perfect. Hundreds of couples who marry by defying social barriers are being targetted every year in various parts of northern India but still there is no legal framework to counter the menace. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda even said, a few months ago, that it was wrong to connect the khap panchayats with honour killings. In this situation of utter hopelessness, it is futile to expect that a celebrity's active role in condemning one incident of murder will make a big difference.
Celebrity-activism has a limitation
There are serious limitations to celebrity activism. The celebrity-activists may care about actual problems but their focus gets diluted when they move on. Aamir Khan, at this moment, may make all sorts of kind gestures to Hakim's family.He might also announce to dedicate a share of his turnovers accrued from Talaash to the victim's kin but what will this actually change in reality? The actor himself has said: "Law alone is not sufficient to curb honour killings. What is needed is a change in the mindset of the people." Who is going to change the mindset of the people of an undemocratic society?
Aamir's Talaash will come and go but we will yet not find any ways to deal with the persisting social menace that is regularly making this country bleed. Will it go like this forever? The answer lies too deep within for somebody like Aamir Khan to find out.
The actor should at least set aside a share of profits from Talaash for the welfare of Hakim's family and raise the awareness against such social evils. He has the means and reach. May Talaash taste success and trigger a social movement.