NEW DELHI: Indian movie star Deepika Padukone on Tuesday visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University to express solidarity with the students who were attacked by a rightwing mob but did not address the crowd.

India’s film industry is sharply divided between the government and the protesters over a controversial citizenship law that excludes Muslims from a list of beneficiaries.

Ms Padukone attended a public meeting, called by JNU Teacher’s Association and JNUSU in response to the January 5 attack on students and teachers by a masked mob, reports said.

Ms Padukone stood as former JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar was raising slogans and left by the time current president Aishe Ghosh started speaking. Her decision to not address the crowd prompted Ms Ghosh to comment: “When you are in a position, you should speak up.”

JNUTA secretary Surajit Majumdar said the actor came to express solidarity with the students.

Ms Padukone is in the capital to promote her upcoming release, Meghna Gulzar-directed Chhapaak.

On January 6, the 34-year-old actor told a news channel that she feels proud that people have come out and raised their voice without fear, in reference to the protests against the amended Citizenship Act, the National Register of Citizens and violence in JNU.

“I feel proud to see that we aren’t scared to express ourselves... I think the fact that we are thinking about the country and its future.... Whatever may be our point of view, it’s nice to see,” Ms Padukone told NDTV India.

“I feel proud about it that people are coming out — be it on the streets or wherever they are — they are raising their voice and expressing themselves as it is important. If we want to see change in life and society, it is important that a point of view be put forward,” she added.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2020

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