A complaint was filed against actor-politician Paresh Rawal on Friday for allegedly spreading “hate speech” with his “cook fish for Bengalis” remark during an election rally in Gujarat. A row erupted over Rawal’s comments in his pitch to voters to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Gujarat assembly election, where polling for the second phase will be held on Monday. Rawal later apologised for the remarks and tried to clarify, but it was not enough to stop a complaint from being filed.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammed Salim said the party had lodged a police complaint against Rawal for allegedly spreading “hate speech” at the Gujarat rally.
“Such a speech on public domain has been made to provoke riots and destroy the harmony between Bengali community and other communities across the country and cause public mischief,” the complaint stated.
The actor, who emerged victorious from Ahmedabad East in the 2014 Lok Sabha on a BJP ticket, was seen in a widely circulated video asking people at a poll campaign before the 1st phase election in Gujarat to back the BJP for their security and not be influenced by other issues.
“Gas cylinders are expensive but they will come down. People will get employment too. But what will happen if Rohingya migrants and Bangladeshis start living around you, like in Delhi? What will you do with gas cylinders? Cook fish for the Bengalis?” Rawal said at the rally.
Earlier in the day, he, however, apologised for the remark and said it was not aimed at the people of Bengal, instead, he meant to refer to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and Rohingya migrants.
“Of course the fish is not the issue as Gujaratis do cook and eat fish. But let me clarify by Bengali I meant illegal Bangladeshi n Rohingya. But still if I have hurt your feelings and sentiments I do apologise,” he tweeted.
Many people from West Bengal found Rawal’s statement offensive, wondering what cooking fish had to do with the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. In the political circle, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) was the first to take offence over the remark.