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Pro-Government Celebrities and Marchers Say India Is Not Intolerant

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A host of prominent personalities from India’s film industry led a protest march on Saturday against those calling the country intolerant, aiming to provide a counterpoint to those who say that minorities have suffered under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The “March for India” in New Delhi was led by veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher and ended with him and 10 others submitting a memorandum to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, local broadcaster NDTV reported.

“Any brutal killing is condemnable. We strongly condemn it and expect swift justice,” read the memorandum signed by 90 public figures including actors, musicians and judges. “But if it is used by some people to attempt to defame India at the international platform, then we should be worried.”

The document was referring to the murder of an atheist scholar in August as well as a series of subsequent lynchings of Muslims suspected of eating beef, which is highly taboo for Hindus. The bloodshed has prompted dozens of prominent Indian personalities to return national awards to voice their concerns.

“Nobody has the right to call our country intolerant,” Kher said the day after the march.

He and his group later met Modi, who said “Indian culture goes beyond tolerance, and talks of acceptance.”

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Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com