Actor Kangana Ranaut kicked off a firestorm on Thursday for declaring that India attained 'real freedom' in 2014, when the Modi-led government came to power, and describing the country's Independence in 1947 as 'bheekh', or alms.
The Manikarnika actor, known for provocative and often inflammatory statements, was once again the centre of debate -- and ire -- with politicians across the spectrum, including Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi, among the host of social media users and others who reacted with outrage for her comments at an event on Wednesday evening.
BJP's Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi shared a video of Ranaut's remarks on his Twitter handle.
In a 24-second clip distributed widely, Ranaut says India's Independence in 1947 was not freedom but 'bheekh' (alms).
"And we got real freedom in 2014," she said at the event organised by a new channel with some people in the audience heard clapping.
'It is an anti-national act and must be called out as such. To not do so would be a betrayal of all those who shed blood so that today we may stand tall and free as a nation,' Gandhi said in his tweet in Hindi.
People can never forget the infinite sacrifices of our freedom movement and the millions of lives lost and families destroyed, he added.
Belittling it all in this 'shameless manner' cannot be condoned simply as a careless or callous statement, he said.
'Sometimes an insult to the sacrifice and penance of Mahatma Gandhi, sometimes showing respect to his killer and now this disdain for the sacrifice of millions of freedom fighters from Shaheed Mangal Pandey to Rani Laxmibai, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and others... "Should I call this kind of thinking madness or treason?' the Lok Sabha MP asked.
The ever combative Ranaut, whose Twitter account has been suspended, hit back on Instagram.
'Even though I clearly mentioned 1857 revolution first freedom fight which was curbed... which lead to more atrocities and cruelties from the British and almost a century later freedom was given to us in Gandhi's begging bowl... Ja aur roo ab,' she said in her Insta stories.
Ranaut, who was awarded a Padma Shri earlier this week, also targeted the Congress in her remarks at the show.
'If we get freedom as a 'bheekh', is it even freedom? What the British left behind in the name of Congress... They were the extension of the British...,' she said.
'This statement is an insult to our freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for India's Independence. Shame on you Kangana!' said Congress' Salman Nizami.
Salman Soz pointed out in his Twitter post that some people clapped when Ranaut said India's real independence was in 2014 because 1947 was a charity case.
He also recalled the millions who 'resisted the British, those who were killed or jailed, those who loved India'.
'Today is Malauna Azad's Birth anniversary. He gave up his whole life for India's independence. He was also Independent India's first education minister. Today is National Education Day -what a day to hear this gem from #wassap educated joker aka #KanganaRanaut,' added Yasmin Kidwai, a Congress worker.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi compared Ranaut's remarks to another BJP member who recently claimed that India has been given freedom as lease for 99 years.
Chaturvedi said, 'New Ruchi Pathak on the block. From 99 years lease to bheek main mili azaadi. All the blood, sweat and balidan (sacrifice) of our freedom fighters including Jhansi ki Rani dismissed to please the master. The WhatsApp history fans (sic).'
Aam Aadmi Party's Preeti Sharma Menon said she had submitted an application to the Mumbai Police requesting action against Ranaut for her 'seditious and inflammatory statements under Sections 504, 505 and 124A'.
While Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code deals 'Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace', Section 505 is related to statements to create 'public mischief' and 124A deals with sedition.
'Hope to see some action. @CPMumbai @DGPMaharashtra,' she tweeted,
Ranaut may not be on Twitter but her name was trending with many, including historian S Irfan Habib, weighing in with their views.
'Shamelessness is abysmal,' Habib wrote.
Actor Swara Bhasker, who also shared the video clip on her Twitter page, wondered about those who were heard clapping at Ranaut's comments.
"'ho are the idiots who are clapping is what I want to know,' wrote Bhasker, who has worked with Ranaut in the Tanu Weds Manu film series and has been a critic of the actor.
Others, too, were furious, some questioning her recent Padma Shri award.
'Will we now start celebrating a new Independence Day?' asked filmmaker Onir
Without naming the actor, badminton player Jwala Gutta wrote, 'What do you call a person who only spews venom when she/he opens their mouth!!! Just curious!!'
Radio jockey Sayema admitted that Ranaut, a multiple award winning actor, was good.
'Even though, she is a good actor, I will NEVER watch Kangana Ranaut's performances. Period,' she said.
Lawyer Aman Wadud said it was a well thought out statement from the actor.
'Ground being prepared to attack the Constitution. Well-thought-out statement, don't make the mistake to read this in isolation.'
A social media user said the 'nonsense talk' by the Padma Shri winner was a 'direct disrespect to all our freedom fighters'.