The saffron-robed chief minister of India’s most populous

The actor, who has a stable marriage with his childhood sweetheart, a Hindu named Gauri Khan, enjoys a large fan following across South Asia, and has more than 42 million followers on Twitter, an equal number on Facebook, and nearly 27 million on Instagram.

He also owns the Kolkata Knight Riders team, which plays for the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s richest cricket competition.
Despite his Muslim identity, Shah Rukh has mostly enjoyed a non-controversial film career. In recent years, however, he has faced the ire of the right-wing BJP.

In 2015, shortly after Modi came to power, the actor was dubbed “anti-national” by the BJP after he spoke against growing religious intolerance in the country.

Yogi Adityanath, the saffron-robed chief minister of India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state, once compared Shah Rukh with Pakistan’s Hafiz Saeed, considered to be the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and a United Nations-designated terrorist.

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Experts say the drugs case involving his son has once again shone the spotlight on the vulnerability of a Muslim actor in India.

But the high-profile case has also divided social media in India, with fans of the actor demanding Aryan’s release soon while others are demanding a boycott of his father’s upcoming films.

Since his arrest, hashtags such as #ReleaseAryanKhan, #WeStandWithSRK, #BailForAryanKhan and #WeLoveYouSRK have been trending on Indian social media in support of Shah Rukh Khan and his son.

Those opposing the bail have used the hashtags #NoBailOnlyJail and #SendAryanKhanToJail. Some have even started a campaign asking people to boycott the brands endorsed by Shah Rukh, using hashtags such as #Boycott_SRK_Related_Brands and #BoycottShahRukhKhan.

Shah Rukh Khan and his wife Gauri pose at the wedding ceremony of Akash Ambani, son of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, in Mumbai [File: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

A leading education-tech company, Byju’s, stopped all its advertisements featuring the actor.

In recent years, Bollywood has been dogged by allegations of widespread drug abuse and several actors have been linked to drugs cases.

Last year, the industry was at the centre of a major controversy over the death of young actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who allegedly died by suicide following a history of narcotics abuse.

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‘Jailed for who you are’
While several Bollywood actors have come out in support of Shah Rukh and his son, the silence of some of its biggest stars has also been slammed by his fans and social media users.
Veteran actor and politician Shatrugan Sinha said Aryan was being “targeted” because of his father, though he ruled out any religious angle to the arrest.

“Shah Rukh is definitely the reason why the boy is being targeted. There are other names like Munmun Dhamecha and Arbaaz Merchant, but nobody is talking about them,” Sinha told an Indian website, adding that some people want to “settle personal scores” with the superstar.

Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, alleged that India’s federal agencies are “after the 23-year-old simply because his surname happens to be Khan”.

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