A ridiculous report that Om Puri was “murdered” has been doing the rounds in Pakistani’s press. According to these reports Om Puri was the victim of a political conspiracy and was smothered to death by a pillow. We are choking on that one.
To put all the bilge being spewed in Pakistani print and on television (where they claim our government intends to assassinate Salman Khan and Fawad Khan next, I kid you not) to rest, Om was not Pro-Pakistan at all, and he was definitely not anti-Modi.
But he was against boycotting Pakistani artistes after the URI attack. After his unfortunate impetuously uttered comments on the Indian soldiers who were martyred after the terror attack on Uri, Om was subjected to the worst kind of trolling ridiculing and humiliation, so much so that he told me he would quit Bollywood and move out. Though the Pakistani press would now like to see those comments as signs of Om being pro-Pakistan, the truth is Om didn’t stop being a true Indian just because of a few irresponsible statements that he regretted deeply and profoundly. He blamed the television media for provoking him into making irresponsible statements.
Om got very emotional when he was accused of being anti-national. “I’ll never participate in a television debate again. If you want to discuss national issues with me come and talk face-to-face one on one. During the television debate they asked me a question. I was answering. In the middle of my answer they asked me about soldiers and in irritation I said what I did. It was wrong. Terribly wrong of me to disrespect our soldiers. I pronounce myself guilty. Just saying I am sorry is not enough. Let the Government decide my punishment. But I’d implore them to not just put me in jail where I will sit around eating free meals. Let me do something for the betterment of society.”
Om then paid a visit to Uri martyr’s families. “I’ll also give whatever I can afford for their children. I want to assume the role of the soldiers’ children’s uncle. I want to become a part of their family.”
About banning Pakistani artistes in India Om says, “People in our country are angry. Let the Pakistanis stay away for a while. But the Indian government is quiet over the issue. If my government is silent on the issue, what can I say? Let the Indian government decide to send back all artistes, entrepreneurs and people visiting their relatives from Pakistan. Ask to pack up and leave in 2-3 days, But how will you round up all the Pakistanis in India and drive them to the airport?”
Om Puri recalled the divide between the two countries and how no one thought it was so final. “When the country was partitioned it was mostly the poor who left for the other side leaving family behind, thinking they’d be reunited soon, or at least be able to visit each other regularly. How would they’ve known that relations would get so bad between the countries?”
He recalled his own pleasant visits to Pakistan. “I’ve been to Pakistan six times. Each visit has been pleasant and rewarding. My most recent visit to Pakistan was last month when I visited four cities in Pakistan to promote my film Pakistani Actor In Law directed by Nabeel Qureshi. I am happy to say the film is a big hit. Everywhere I went I was accorded great respect and love. In fact I’d like the film to be released in India as well.”
This was the last time Om spoke to me about Pakistan. He also expressed the utmost respect for Narendra Modi. “We may not agree with some of his policy decisions. But we cannot deny his integrity and honesty of purpose.”
Tragically the sensation-hungry newshounds from across the border see Om’s generosity of spirit towards Pakistan as a sign of anti-nationalism which prompted his “murder”. This is sleuthing on the sleaziest grounds possible. It doesn’t even qualify as journalism let alone responsible journalism. How insensitive that a dead man’s silence is being used as insurance against a backlash for practicing the absurdist form of journalism.
I can only feel sorry for a government that allows its press the freedom to talk as much nonsense about a hostile country as they can without fear of percussion. BJP spokesperson Shaina NC thinks the Pakistani press needs to exercise restrain. “Firstly, Om Puri was our national treasure. His death is none of their business. Secondly even if they make it their business they should get their facts right and not make wild outrageous allegations supported by absolutely ridiculous arguments. We in India believe in a free and fair press. Not a free-for-all press.”