India's Tourism Ministry has denied reports that Bollywood actor Aamir Khan was "removed as ambassador" for the Incredible India campaign. The Ministry has said that there is "no change" in their stand on Khan's position as ambassador.
An article published in the Business Times on Wednesday (6 January) indicated that the 50-year-old Bollywood legend had been dropped as from the tourism campaign. Khan caused nationwide controversy in November 2015 when he suggested that India was experiencing a rise in intolerance. The false news that he was dropped from the Tourism Ministry's campaign prompted thousands to take to Twitter to commend the news, with many accusing the actor of being "anti-national".
Speaking at an awards ceremony in November, Khan sparked an uproar when he said his wife Kiran Rao had suggested they should leave India due to a "sense of growing disquiet" and "growing despondency" in the country. When thousands took offence at the actor's comments, Khan said he stood by his words but that his family had no intention of leaving India. He accused those calling him "anti-national" of "trying to distort" what he had said during his interview.
In a statement published on Facebook on 25 November 2016, Khan wrote: "Let me state categorically that neither I, nor my wife Kiran, have any intention of leaving the country. India is my country, I love it, I feel fortunate for being born here, and this is where I am staying."
Meanwhile, some media reports have indicated that while Khan has not been dropped from the campaign, he is no longer associated with Incredible India. Rahul Kanwal, Managing Editor of India Today, tweeted that the Tourism Ministry's contract with the Bollywood actor had now come to an end and that his removal from the campaign had "nothing to do with Aamir Khan's view on intolerance" but rather, the "contract has ended".
Despite the Tourism Ministry confirming that Khan had not been dropped from the Incredible India campaign, many have continued to post anti-Khan messages on social media. 'Incredible India' was trending for several hours on Twitter as people discussed whether Khan deserved to hold the post as brand ambassador for the tourism campaign.