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Film industry representatives meet government even as students are attacked at JNU campus

While a section of the Hindi film industry met Union minister Piyush Goyal, another section took to social media to condemn the brutal violence that took place at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi yesterday.

Our Correspondent

A section of the Hindi film industry met Union railways minister Piyush Goyal at a meet organized by the government to clarify its stance on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) even as brutal violence was unleashed by self-proclaimed nationalist elements on students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on Sunday evening.

In view of the growing protests against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizenship (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) across the country, the government had invited members of the film industry for a meeting to explain its stance.

A number of prominent members of the film industry, like Anurag Kashyap, Swara Bhasker, Sushant Singh and Varun Grover, have been participating actively in the protests against the CAA and the NRC and have spoken out against religious discrimination in deciding who can apply for citizenship.

The meeting saw fewer members show up than at an earlier meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi last year. Actor Ranvir Shorey, lyricist Prasoon Joshi, head of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), actress Urvashi Rautela, producers Bhushan Kumar and Ritesh Sidhwani, composers Anu Malik and Roop Kumar Rathod, and singers Kailash Kher and Shaan were among those who attended. 

Speaking later with the Press Trust of India news agency, Shorey said, "It was a good meeting. It's great to see the government reach out to clear the air regarding the CAA."

He said Goyal told them that more such meetings would be organized with people from different walks of life. "I already had no issues with the CAA and I hope more people are not misled about it affecting any Indian citizen," Shorey said.

The invitation for the meeting, facilitated by producer Mahavir Jain, read, "The agenda of the meeting will be to facilitate a discussion on myths and realities pertaining to the Citizenship Amendment Act."

Notable absentees at the meeting were Aamir Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Kabir Khan, Javed Akhtar and Richa Chadha, all of whom had been invited. Kashyap, Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhasker and filmmaker Anubhav Sinha, vocal opponents of the CAA and NRC, had been excluded from the event.

As the meeting concluded, there were fresh reports of violence emerging from JNU, with masked thugs running riot on the campus, attacking students and teachers with iron rods, acid and lathis, though the university had already been marked out for increased security by the Delhi police in view of recent protests.

While Sinha, Kashyap and Swara Bhasker took to social media to put out messages for help, several prominent members of the industry tweeted a condemnation of the attack.

Sinha also called upon his colleagues at the meeting with the Union minister to speak out in support of the students.

Swara Bhasker and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub were among the first to tweet out messages asking for help to reach the campus as news of violence broke out. Ira Bhasker, Swara's mother, is part of the faculty at the cinema studies department at the university.

Actress Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, who has been quiet on the issue so far, also took to social media to condemn the brazen violence on the campus. 

Twinkle Khanna, Kriti Sanon, Renuka Shahane and Dia Mirza were among the others who spoke up condemning the violence by masked perpetrators.

Actors Rajkummar Rao, Siddharth of Rang De Basanti (2006) fame, and Ritesh Deshmukh were also on social media expressing outrage at the incident.  

Composer Vishal Dadlani did not mince any words in his reference to the meeting with film celebrities. 

While voices condemning the violence also included some alumni of the university from the central government, the bigger stars have stayed away from voicing any opinion on the raging controversy.

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