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Contrary to Akshay Kumar's claim, Canada doesn't list him as honorary citizen

In fact, reports in the Canadian media suggest that the Hindi film star, known these days for his patriotic movies and his admiration for prime minister Narendra Modi, is a full citizen of the North American country.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Keyur Seta

Actor Akshay Kumar has been trending on social media ever since Mumbai came out to vote in India's 17th general election on 29 April. Hindi film fans were aghast that the star did not vote though his wife, actress-turned-humour columnist Twinkle Khanna, did.

The surprise of the fans was magnified because Akshay Kumar has come to acquire the image of a diehard patriot through his movie roles over the past few years, his views on issues of national importance, and his work with the armed forces and farmers.

Moreover, Akshay Kumar is an avowed fan of prime minister Narendra Modi, whom he interviewed last week and who is seeking re-election.

So, why would a person who is so concerned about the country not carry out the most basic duty of a citizen? Akshay Kumar was asked this by a journalist a couple of days ago. The question irked the star, who refused to answer and began scolding his manager for letting the group of journalists ask such questions.

Interestingly, the video, which was uploaded on YouTube by a news agency, has been removed. However, copies of it are floating around on social media.

For the past few years, there has been talk about Akshay Kumar being a Canadian citizen, which, some say, is why he could not vote. But the actor has been saying that he has only received ‘honorary citizenship’ of Canada, which is not the same as giving up Indian citizenship and becoming a Canadian.

Asked the same question at a press conference to announce the success of Jolly LLB 2 (2017), Akshay Kumar had said, "It is just an honorary title. It doesn't mean anything."

However, a check of the official websites of the government of Canada revealed that Akshay Kumar's name does not feature in the list of the country's honorary citizens.

An article from 2017, published on the Canadian prime minister's official website, announces Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, as the latest individual to be granted honorary citizenship of Canada.

The article also mentions the names of other personalities to have received the honour. “Ms Yousafzai is one of just six people to receive honorary Canadian citizenship," it says. "The others are [the late Swedish diplomat and World War II hero] Raoul Wallenberg, [the late South African leader and humanist] Nelson Mandela, the 14th Dalai Lama, [Burmese democracy activist] Aung San Suu Kyi, and the Aga Khan.”

Suu Kyi's honorary citizenship was revoked last year following her alleged inaction on the Burmese military's violence against her country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

Moreover, a 2012 article in the Vancouver Observer newspaper states that while thousands have to wait for years for Canadian citizenship, Akshay Kumar’s application was accepted swiftly. “While the majority of these cases have been resolved through the 2009 Bill C-37, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, some people are waiting years to receive the same citizenship papers that others — such as Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar — were granted within weeks,” says the article.

There is also a video of Akshay Kumar addressing fans in Toronto, Ontario state, Canada, saying, “Toronto is my home. After I retire from the industry, I am going to come down here and stay here.”

The actor has yet another 'deshbhakti' film in the form of Mission Mangal (2019) up for release this year. That would afford the star another opportunity to clear the air on his own citizenship status.