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July 16, 1999
Raunaq Singh questions Dilip Kumar's decision to retain Nishan-e-Pakistan
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
After Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, it is industrialist Raunaq Singh's turn to join issue with thespian Dilip Kumar over his controversial Nishan-e-Imtiaz award.
Singh, who turns 77 on August 15, has questioned Dilip Kumar's decision to retain the award.
"I don't know why he says Pakistan is his birthplace. When he was born the whole country was India. I too was born at a place which is now in Pakistan, [but that] does not mean I should start loving a country which wages a war in Kargil and fights a proxy battle in Jammu and Kashmir all the time," Singh told rediff.com in an exclusive interview.
The Grand Old Sardar of Indian industry is proud that he has not accepted any award from Pakistan despite having got many offers. "I am proud that I have been honoured with the Nishan-e-Khalsa by the Government of Punjab on the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa Panth at Anandpur Sahib. Even if the Government of Pakistan had offered me the same award that Dilip Kumar happily accepted, I would have turned down the offer," he said.
He termed the veteran actor's statement that he loves Pakistan downright idiotic. "I do not agree with his statement. You have been enjoying all the good things in India for the last 50 years or so and enjoying the love and affection of Indians as a film actor, getting all the prestigious awards. And now you suddenly turn around and say that you love Pakistan because you were born in Peshawar? Isn't it funny?"
He admired former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev Nikhanj for the stand he took on the Kargil issue. "Indians would have loved to see Dilip Kumar taking a similar stand. He would have been hailed if he had returned his award to the Government of Pakistan after the Kargil crisis began.
"[But] Instead of leading the country from the front, he kept going from one leader to the other to explain his viewpoint. Why should the prime minister tell him what to do and what not to do? The award was given to him as an individual and he should have been bold enough to take a tough stand for his country, India," Singh said.
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