Mumbai: The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Friday jumped on the opportunity provided by the uptick in tensions with Islamabad, and asked actors and artistes from Pakistan, such as Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, to leave India. A leader of the xenophobic party issued a 48-hour deadline, after which he said MNS would “push them out”.
MNS leader Amey Khopkar, chief of the MNS’s cinema workers’ unit Chitrapat Karamchari Sena, told news agency ANI, “We give a 48-hour deadline to Pakistani actors and artistes to leave India, or MNS will push them out.”
Khopkar went a step further with the xenophobia, saying, “Pakistani artistes will get beaten up. Along with them, we will also beat up whichever producer or director is with them.”
The virulent comment from a leader of the Marathi chauvinist party comes at a time when relations between India and Pakistan are souring over Islamabad’s support to terrorists who target India.
This is hardly the first time Khopkar has issued threats of physical violence. He had issued a similar threat to AIB comedian Tanmay Bhat during the Sachin Tendulkar-Lata Mangeshkar Snapchat controversy.
He has also waded in with vitriol into a number of other controversies involving celebrities and the film industry. There have however been instances when his party and its chief Raj Thackeray have distanced themselves from his remarks when they have been indefensible.
This brand of disruption is hardly new to the Mumbai circuit. The MNS and its competitively xenophobic parent organisation Shiv Sena routinely target Pakistani personalities.
For instance, Shiv Sena had targeted the promotions of Fawad Khan’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and Mahira Khan’s ‘Raees’. It had even said filmmakers and producers ‘should not cast Pakistanis in their films’.
Other Pakistani artistes to have fallen afoul of the Sena-MNS xenophobia bandwagon include Mekaal Hasan Band and noted ghazal singer Ghulam Ali.
Not just the film industry, cricket too has been threatened, with the most recent example being a cricket match between India and Pakistan during the T20 World Cup.