In India, film star Shah Rukh Khan in the sights of Hindu nationalists

The soap opera has been going on for three weeks. Indian media feed on it to the point of indigestion. Aryan Khan, the son of one of the biggest stars of Indian cinema, Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested on October 2 by the National Narcotics Agency, along with seven other people, in front of television channels’ cameras, while staying on a luxury cruise ship off Mumbai, bound for Goa.

The police accuse him of being involved in international drug trafficking. The 23-year-old has been in prison since, although no substance was found on him and no blood test was carried out to confirm the trace of an illicit product. He was refused two bail requests. After three days of hearing, Thursday, October 28, the High Court of Bombay finally decided to release him on bail.

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Based on discussions on WhatsApp, investigators assure that it is part of a vast “Conspiracy”. The televisions, which broadcast, hour by hour, the latest information on the case, evoked a “Drug cartel”. In fact, drug police only seized small amounts of cocaine and chemicals from the boat in the belongings of other passengers.

An advocate of multiculturalism

The charges against Aryan Khan seem so tenuous that for the independent media and for intellectuals, this arrest has no other aim than the father, Shah Rukh Khan. The “King of Bollywood”, 55 years old, 105 films, 42 million followers on Twitter, is a national and international icon, but also a scarecrow for the Indian nationalists in power in India who advocate the ideology of the Hindutva, the supremacy of the Hindu religion. A Muslim – his father, a lawyer, was from Pakistan – the actor married a Hindu, Gauri, with whom he had three children. Coming from the middle class, orphaned at 26, he is one of the great fortunes of India and has splendid homes, notably in Bombay, in front of the sea. He is a defender of multiculturalism and has protested against it. intolerance and religious discrimination in India.

Fans of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan demand the release of his son Aryan Khan, in front of the High Court in Bombay (India) on October 26, 2021.

Trouble began for him in November 2015, less than a year after Narendra Modi took power, when he criticized growing religious tensions in the country after a man, Mohammad Aklaq, suspected of having stored beef in his refrigerator in Uttar Pradesh had been lynched. “Religious intolerance will lead India into the dark ages”, he had declared. His words got him compared by Yogi Adityanath, an extremist monk close to Modi, to the mastermind of the 2006 Bombay terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 200 people. Supporters of the Indian People’s Party (BJP, now in power) took over. Since then, Shah Rukh Khan has been extremely careful in his interventions.

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In India, film star Shah Rukh Khan in the sights of Hindu nationalists