Bajrang Dal members from Gujarat came down to Mumbai, threatened the owner of Bandra’s Rangshardha auditorium that was to host stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui’s show and got it cancelled. Sources said the Bajrang Dal members also threatened the owner of a Borivali hall, which were also to host Faruqui, leading to the cancellation of the show.
The shows were to take place on October 29 at the hall in Borivali (West) and on October 30 and 31 at Rangsharda auditorium in Bandra (West). But the organisers of the shows had to abruptly call them off on Wednesday after right wing groups ran an online hate campaign against Faruqui and threatened the hall owners.
Purnima Shah, owner of Rangsharda auditorium, said, “We were threatened on Tuesday afternoon by three members of Bajrang Dal. They said ‘this show is against Hindus’. I told them producers book the hall and we do not ask who is the artist. I told them that the organiser has censor certificate, but still the Bajrang Dal members were threatening us. They told us they will burn the place, so we decided to cancel the show. At that time I called the police, who escorted them out of my premises.”
“Before this incident, two people from Bajrang Dal had also threatened my staff over phone. Police had come then too and we provided them with phone numbers of the callers. I have given in writing that we are cancelling the show because of the threats,” she added.
An organiser, requesting anonymity, said, “We were under tremendous pressure as the police had served us a notice that we will be booked if any law and order problem occurs due to the act. For safety of our audience, we called it off. But it’s really sad that an artist is being targeted because of his religion and some joke he cracked two years ago. Everyone makes mistakes and it was made amply clear to the police that no Hindu sentiments will be hurt.”
Manohar Dhanavde, Senior Inspector of Bandra police station said, “We gave a warning to Bajrang Dal that action will be taken if it creates any issue. We also served a notice to the organisers.”
The notice (accessed by The Indian Express) stated that police have information that the act may contain content that may hurt religious sentiments of Hindus or other religions. In such case, if a law and order problem takes place due to such content that hurts religious sentiments, then action will be taken against the organisers and the notice will be used as evidence against them in court.
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