Bollywood actor Salman Khan, who has come under slander for performing at the Saifai Mahotsav in Uttar Pradesh where thousands of people in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar are struggling to survive, defended his decision and said that the event was an opportunity for him to help people.
In a statement that followed a storm of criticism on social media, Mr. Khan said his NGO, Being Human, had pledged to fund 200 paediatric surgeries in Uttar Pradesh on behalf of all artistes who performed at the event.
"Whenever I visit a place for a performance or a promotion, I see it as an opportunity to help the locals in the areas of healthcare or education," said Salman Khan to a popular daily.
"In Etawah, Being Human, on behalf of all artists who performed yesterday, has committed to fund 200 paediatric heart surgeries in UP. There is already a wait list of 81 children who are being moved to Fortis Hospital Gurgaon and their surgeries will get done by the month end. Being Human is in touch with local NGOs and hospitals for their lists also," he added.
Madhuri Dixit, who also performed at the event, defended the decision and also highlighted the contributions that would be made by the artists who performed at the event.
“As artists and celebrities, we believe in using our reach to help others through drawing attention to the needs of the day,” tweeted Madhuri Dixit.
Alia Bhatt’s father is disappointed that he couldn’t stop his daughter from performing there. Director Mahesh Bhatt said he had failed as a father by not stopping his daughter from dancing in Saifai.
Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Alia Bhatt were among over two dozen celebrities who performed at the Bollywood night in Saifai, which closed the fortnight long event slammed for its lavish scale and poor timing.
Hours after the show, the film stars also faced the anger mainly directed at the Uttar Pradesh government's callousness.