Bollywood actor Salman Khan, whose latest film Dabangg has set the cash registers ringing, apologised this week after sparking criticism for claiming that the 2008 Mumbai attacks attracted widespread publicity only because the elite were targeted.
The actor also questioned Indian claims that the Pakistani state helped plan the atrocities.
In an interview to Express 24/7, which was recorded three weeks ago, he said, “Too much hype has been created around the 26/11 attacks because elite people were targeted. Attacks have happened in trains and small towns but no one talked about it so much.”
“Everybody knows that the Pakistani government was not behind it and it was a terrorist attack. Our security had failed. We have had lot of attacks earlier, and all of them were not from Pakistan. They were from within,” he added.
Following demands from right-wing Hindu nationalist political groups for a public retraction, and criticism in the newspapers, one of which called him “Khan The Clueless”, the 44-year-old apologised to his fans.
“I think I messed up, so sorry guys,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter on Monday.
Khan’s tweet came after he posted a statement on YouTube claiming his comments had been “twisted around”.
“I saw it myself, the way it is coming across on the TV. It’s sounding insensitive,” he said.
“I was just saying that life is equal ... it is the same. Some attacks had more media coverage than the others. Why is that? I think every human life is as important,” he added.
“I didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s sentiments and if I have hurt anybody’s sentiments, I am really, really sorry.”
His father Salim Khan and brother Arbaaz came out in his defence. Salman’s father, a well-known scriptwriter, said his son “should not” have made the remarks and should apologise, but added that Salman is not “articulate and political” and it could have been a “wrong choice of words”.
“Whatever I’ve heard, he should not have said that. It is wrong. He is not a very articulate person or a political person. It could have been the wrong choice of words,” Salim, 74, told Aaj Tak news channel.
Actor-producer Arbaaz Khan defended his brother saying, “Whatever Salman said was just his opinion and he had no intention of hurting anybody’s sentiments.”
The November 2008 attack left 166 people dead as 10 terrorists conducted a coordinated attack across south Mumbai.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2010.
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