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Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut Image Credit: Instagram.com/kanganaranaut/

Amidst calls of her arrest, Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut has doubled down on her controversial comment about India’s freedom struggle, stating that she will return her Padma Shri honour if someone can prove her wrong.

The controversy began after Ranaut on Thursday said that India attained freedom in 2014 when the Narendra Modi-led government came to power and described the country’s Independence in 1947 as “bheek”, or alms.

The actress defended her stance through a series of comments on her Instagram Story, claiming that what she said was “fact”, while sharing what she claimed were excerpts from a book.

“Just to set the records straight. Everything is very clearly mentioned in the same interview 1857 first collective fight for freedom… along with sacrifice of greats like Subhash Chandra Bose, Rani Laxmibai and Veer Savarkar ji. 1857 I know but which war took place in 1947 I am not aware, if someone can bring to my awareness I will give back my Padma Shri and apologise also… please help me with this [sic],” posted Ranaut, while naming some of India’s freedom fighters who took on the British to help the country gain Independence.

Kangana Ranaut plays a freedom fighter in Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Image Credit: GN Archives

The actress also spoke of India’s pacifist freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi in critical tones, as she continued: “I have worked in a feature film of a martyr Rani Laxmi Bai... extensively researched on the first fight of freedom 1857... nationalism rose so did right wing ... but why it died a sudden death? and why Gandhi let Bhagat Singh die ... why Neta Bose was killed and never got Gandhi ji’s support? why line of partition was drawn by a white man... ? instead of celebrating freedom why Indians killed each other some of the answers I am seeking please help me find answers.”

The ‘Manikarnika’ actress said she was ready to face consequences if proven wrong. “As far as Aazadi [freedom] in 2014 concerned I specifically said physical Aazadi we may have but consciousness and conscience of India was set free in 2014... a dead civilisation came alive and fluttered its wing and now roaring and soaring high ... today for the first time ... people can’t shame us for not speaking English or coming from small towns or using made in India products... everything is articulate and clear in the same interview... lekin jo chor hain unki toh jalegi ... koi bujha nahi sakta [those who have a guilty conscience will feel the burn, nothing can be done about it] ... Jai Hind [long live India].”

Even as #KanganaRanautDeshDrohi or traitor trended on Twitter on Saturday, the Aam Aadmi Party submitted an application to the Mumbai Police demanding a case against her for “seditious and inflammatory” comments.

BJP Leader Varun Gandhi Image Credit: Reuters

Earlier on Thursday, BJP leader Varun Gandhi also criticised the actor for her comment. He shared the viral video of the actor and said: “Sometimes an insult to Mahatma Gandhi’s sacrifice and penance, sometimes respect to his [Mahatma Gandhi’s] killer, and now an insult to the sacrifices of lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of freedom fighters -- from Shaheed Mangal Pandey to Rani Laxmibai, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and more. Should I call this madness or treason?”

Maharashtra Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik on Friday demanded that the Centre must withdraw the Padma Shri award from Ranaut for her controversial remarks. The actress was conferred with India’s fourth-highest civilian honour last week.

Nawab Malik
Nawab Malik Image Credit: IANS

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh was also quoted by NDTV saying that she should be stripped of the honour. “I demand that Kangana Ranaut should make a public apology to all Indians because of her statement, our freedom movement and our freedom fighters’ sacrifice were insulted,” Vallabh said.

“The government of India should take back the prestigious Padma award from such a lady who is insulting Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel,” he added while accusing Ranaut of committing treason.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate also slammed Ranaut and said her remarks were “berating and an insult” to the sacrifice of the counrty’s freedom fighters.