'People have simply chosen to twist my words. They are abusing me and my family. If our Hindu culture forbids beef meat, does the same culture give you the right to abuse me and my family just because I have an opinion that you don’t agree with? Is that our culture?'
Rishi Kapoor makes his stand clear.
Rishi Kapoor was persuaded to get back on the social networking site Twitter by actor Abhishek Bachchan. Little did he think that he would land up in an unsavoury controversy as a result.
A casual tweet from Rishi about how food should not be equated with religion in our country, in the wake of the Maharashtra government's ban on beef, has created quite an uproar.
“I am being abused. My family is being abused. As if we are a family of cow-killing infidels. What nonsense!” Rishi bellows indignantly.
Recalling the events leading to the controversy, Rishi Kapoor says, “I was shooting on Sunday, March 15, at a 5-star hotel.
“We took a break for lunch in the coffee shop. It was a buffet. I suddenly see venison, kangaroo and lamb meat on offer...red meat of all kinds.
“I told my colleagues, ‘This is the effect of banning beef. They start killing other animals for meat. Never in my life have I seen venison, which is deer meat -- the deer was dear to Bhagwan Shri Ram, we were told -- being served in any restaurant. And kangaroo meat, in India!’"
Rishi then tweeted his thoughts on the matter.
“Abhishek recently re-introduced me to Twitter. I had gotten off Twitter some years ago. I said something about the beef ban and suddenly the entire nation took off on me.
“You can’t deny the fact that animals are cut for meat. Hindu organisations have attacked me. They want me to be vegetarian. But I am not! And that’s my choice.”
Like millions of others in this country, Rishi doesn’t deny being a beef eater.
“But I don’t eat beef in India. I eat beef prepared from cattle bred for food.
“In the USA, England, Australia and New Zealand, they breed cattle especially for meat. Not like us. In this country we do not breed cattle especially for meat-eating. Beef is not allowed in my house.
“Ninety per cent of my Hindu friends eat beef or beef products. But I am not killing my gau-maata (mother cow) to eat beef. Kissko samjhaooon main? (Who shall I explain this to?)"
The actor feels that he is being targeted for no reason.
“People have deliberately chosen to misconstrue my statements. Everybody is making up his own screenplay to attack me. My fans are mailing me to just ignore the attack as it is normal practice to slam celebrities on Twitter," he continues.
But Rishi feels persecuted. “What was wrong with what I said? People have simply chosen to twist my words. They are abusing me and my family. If our Hindu culture forbids beef meat, does the same culture give you the right to abuse me and my family just because I have an opinion that you don’t agree with?
“Is that our culture? If by banning beef the restaurants are going to find alternative meat, then what is the point?
“What about fish farming that occupies so much of our work force close to the sea? Should we stop eating fish as well?
“I repeat, I don’t eat beef in India. We don’t breed cattle meat here. We revere the cow, and there was a scientific reason for that reverence. Cows give us milk, curd, ploughed our land..."
He points out that the choice of being a vegetarian or otherwise is entirely personal.
“Please do not equate food with religion. I believe it’s not my khaana (food) but my karma that makes me a good human being. All these rules of living are man-made.
“I respect religious rules. I am a true God-fearing Hindu. We get Ganpati in our home. We celebrate Holi and Diwali. Nonetheless, I have every right to my opinion. Don’t try to shout me down just because you have another point of view.”
Rishi says his voice won’t be silenced.
“I am not advocating beef eating. But I am advocating freedom to have an opinion and a voice,” he says.