Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

Deepika Padukone praised by fellow Bollywood stars for visiting Indian university after attack

The actress joined a protest at Jawaharlal Nehru University in a show of solidarity with those injured by an armed mob

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone visits students protesting at Jawaharlal Nehru University against a recent attack. AFP
Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone visits students protesting at Jawaharlal Nehru University against a recent attack. AFP

Deepika Padukone has been lauded by some of Bollywood's biggest names for her surprise visit to an Indian university embroiled in a violent attack this week.

The Padmaavat actress, 34, joined students at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi on Tuesday night, as part of ongoing protests against a lack of police action.

More than 30 people were injured at the prestigious, typically left-wing university on Sunday evening, after a mob of masked intruders stormed the campus and attacked students and teachers with sticks and steel rods.

The attack, which lasted several hours, was blamed on students linked to Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, according to multiple reports.

Both Modi's party and right-wing student union, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, denied the allegations and accused left-leaning student groups of fomenting violence on the campus.

Padukone, who is married to fellow actor Ranveer Singh, spent time mingling with students during an anti-government protest, though did not make an official comment to reporters.

The actress has been praised for showing support to those affected, in contrast to the silence displayed by many of Bollywood's most famous faces.

Among those lauding Padukone for her action was Indian director Anurag Kashyap, who posted on Twitter: "The female of the species is, and was, and will always be the strongest of the two."

"Respect," added actress Konkona Sen Sharma.

News anchor Rajdeep Sardesai also joined the sentiment, tweeting: "When a top film star takes a stand on contentious issues like JNU, you have to say, ‘may your tribe increase!’"

Padukone, who was in New Delhi for the premiere of her latest film Chhapaak, in which she plays an acid attack victim, was also championed by her co-star Vikrant Massey.

Actress Azmi Shabana also defended Padukone, telling her followers on Twitter that the star "has shown exemplary courage by supporting the JNU students with quiet grace".

"Thank you for being a true Indian," added actor Prakash Raj.

Padukone's actions have divided social media, with hashtags including #ISupportDeepika, #IStandWithDeepika, #BoycottDeepikaPadukone and #BoycottChhapaak all trending on Twitter.

Calls for fans to boycott the actress's latest work, which is set to be released on Friday, are Twitter's top trending topic in India today, according to Reuters, with more than 350,000 tweets on the subject.

Police have not yet arrested any attackers, though Aishe Ghosh, leader of the protests at the university, has been charged with attacking security guards during a prior incident on Saturday, The Guardian reports.

Protests at the university had been ongoing following an announced hike of fees.

Updated: January 8, 2020 03:59 PM

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