Mumbai: After tweets that triggered a volley of protests, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Sunday evening apologised for saying that the 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon should not hang but his brother Tiger Memon should.
While standing by what he said overnight, Salman said his father Salim Khan wanted him to retract his tweets "as they have the potential to create misunderstanding". And he promptly deleted the earlier tweets.
In his latest tweet, the 49-year-old actor he never sought to imply that Yakub Memon, who is set to hang in the Nagpur jail on July 30, was not involved in the deadly 1993 blasts that left 257 people dead and over 700 injured in what was then the world's worst urban terror attack.
"What I said is that Yakub Memon should not hang for him (Tiger). I have not said or implied that Yakub Memon is innocent. I have complete faith in the judicial system of our country.
"Many lives were lost in the Mumbai blasts. And I have repeatedly said the loss of (even) one innocent life is equal to the loss of all humanity.
"My dad ... said I should retract my tweets as they have the potential to create misunderstanding. I hereby retract them.
"I would like to unconditionally apologize for any misunderstanding I may have created unintentionally.
"I also strongly condemn those who are claiming my tweets are anti-religious. I have always said I respect all faiths and I always will," the actor tweeted.
Yakub is the brother of one of the main accused, Tiger Memon, who along with others is absconding. Indian officials believe he and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim are in Pakistan.
In his previous tweets, the "Ek Tha Tiger" star also called Tiger Memon a coward for letting his brother face the gallows.
"We can die for our family. Tiger, your brother will be hanged for you in some days. Say something, make a statement or address that it was you. What kind of brother are you?"
The "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" actor also asked Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to share details about Tiger's whereabouts with Indian authorities.
"Where are you hiding Tiger? Sharif Saab, I would request you to let us know about Tiger, if you have any information about him.
"I've been wanting to tweet this for three days and was afraid to do so but it involves a man and his family. Don't hang brother, hang the fox who ran away."
Taken aback by his son's outburst, father Salim Khan told Zee Media: "Salman should have thought sensitively before tweeting in support of Yakub."
Salman's earlier tweets led to furore, forcing authorities to deploy around 50 policemen outside his residence in Galaxy Apartment in Bandra in fear of possible violence. Baricades came up outside his building.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mumbai president Ashish Shelar denounced Salman by calling his remarks an "insult to all Mumbaikars".
Shelar sought the cancellation of Salman's bail against his five-year jail term in the 2002 hit and run accident case.
Some 200 members of the BJP youth wing staged a noisy protest outside Salman's home on Sunday afternoon.
BJP Mumbai North-East MP Kirit Somaiya pledged to raise the matter in parliament on Monday.
Ujjwal Nikam, who directed the prosecution in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case, also criticized Salman.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray declined to react. "Whether action should be taken against him (Salman), let it be decided by the people concerned with the case."
Bollywood was largely silent.
But filmmaker Sudhir Mishra came out in support of the actor saying Salman was entitled to his views. "And by the way many Indians share his views. Please react and talk to him with respect."