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National award winning actor Prakash Raj on Monday described as "chilling" the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on those "celebrating" the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh, including the ones "followed" by him on Twitter.
While questioning Modi's silence, Raj said that he felt like "returning" his awards to "such actors who are acting as though nothing has happened" but later insisted that he was "not such a fool to give back the national awards."
Lankesh, who had strident anti-right wing views, was shot dead from close range by unknown assailants at her home here on the night of September 5.
Raj posted a video statement on Monday night on his Twitter account, saying that he had not said that he "wants to reject the national awards".
"I saw on news channels that Prakash Raj has decided to give back the national awards. I am not such a fool to give back the national awards. It has been given for my work, which I am proud of," Raj said in the video statement.
Earlier, at an event here on Sunday, he had said, "When I see such actors who are acting as though nothing has happened, I have been given five national awards, I feel like returning it to them. They are bigger actors than me."
Raj, who described Lankesh as his close friend, said, "Who is celebrating? I am pained at the celebrations of inhuman killing. I have vented out my pain and my anguish at those who are celebrating. I have been trolled..."
He went on to add, "At the same time, my question is, as the prime minister of this country, if such people are being followed by the prime minister and the prime minister is not taking a stand on them or not commenting on them, as a citizen of this country, I am disturbed, hurt. I am afraid of the silence of my prime minister."
Emphasising that he did not belong to any political party and was speaking as a citizen of the country, Raj said, "I am not talking against any party. I am talking to my prime minister. I am saying your silence is chilling. I am hurt by the silence....I have a right to say this."
On Sunday, the actor had said, "...My problem is that -- who killed (her) is not important -- but who is celebrating is clearly seen (on Twitter)."
He had added, "Who is happy can be clearly seen. There may not be proof (regarding the killing), but things can be seen. Today through social media the hidden cruelty is known."
He made the remarks after inaugurating the 11th state conference of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, the youth wing of the CPI(M), here yesterday.
"We have a prime minister amidst us who is sitting with his eyes shut to this," Raj said.
In further comments, he had said, "I'm bigger actor than you, don't try to act in front of me, please respect me as an actor. If you act in front of me as though you know nothing-- am I a fool (to believe it) or are people or today's younger generation fools?"
He has won national awards as best supporting actor for his film 'Iruvar' in Tamil, special jury award for 'Anthapuram' in Telugu, special jury award for various movies in multiple languages, best actor for 'Kanchivaram' in Telugu, and best film for 'Puttakkana Highway' in Kannada.