Union Minister Prakash Javadekar was perhaps the sole figure who supported Actress Deepika Padukone's solidarity visit to JNU protest on Tuesday evening. Standing shoulder to shoulder with students of JNU, Deepika made headlines on Wednesday for extending her support to the students while condemning the horrific attack — something which, in the current polarising environment, branded her as Leftist and against the country. Expectedly, many BJP members across the political spectrum condemned her show of solidarity. #boycottchhapaak, in view of the theatrical release of her upcoming film Chhapaak, trended all day as Twitterati stood polarised on her stance. Deepika's no-comment, solidarity visit was enough to at least bring her followers to the dilemma of which side to support. Blind support for any side is not what should be the case as everyone is entitled to assess the situation and learn for themselves what the truth ought to be and what it has been perceived as. There are many who do not know facts but believe words and unintentionally stand indoctrinated to doctored ideology and belief. What Deepika's presence did to those who believed the propaganda that Left attacked JNU was questioning their support. #shameonbollywood also trended as people condemned the mighty Bollywood — a hub of influencers — as remaining largely silent on the attack. The position Bollywood holds in this country can play a vital role in public stance. Deepika's visit to protest marks her right to expression but also her duty to speak out against injustice. Marring her visit by remarks of being affiliated to tukde-tukde gang holds no substance as she is merely expressing herself like Javadekar established in his statement.
Condemning Deepika for her decisions is in itself unwanted. Singling her out for her JNU visit only speaks of deteriorating tolerance for dissent. It also highlights the thin line between dissent and anti-national. A people's government must exercise everything in its power to promote a healthy democratic environment. But by boycotting a movie because the actor expressed herself in a polarising issue, these groups of people, notwithstanding who they belong to or what they do, give an impression of weakening respect for freedom of expression in our democracy. To this extent, those not speaking on the matter also shouldn't be singled out, even if it is expected out of them. Deepika's mere presence is a subject of debate over dissent being restrained and that is not a very reassuring sign of a healthy democracy. If everyone condemns the attack on our students and hold the opinion that perpetrators should be brought to justice, there remains no ground for politicising Deepika's visit. Her visit and her views are strictly her matter and that has nothing to do with politics.