Following a protest by a fringe group, the Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) in Jaipur cancelled Tuesday’s staging of the play ‘Eidgah ke Jinnat’ citing “unavoidable circumstances”.
The play was a part of the Navras performing arts festival at JKK between February 16 and 24. ‘Eidgah ke Jinnat’, which opened at the festival on Monday, is the Hindi-Urdu version of a critically acclaimed 2012 play called ‘Djinns of Eidgah’.
“The play portrays Armymen in negative light. Several Armymen laid down their lives for the nation recently, but this play humiliates them,” said Suraj Soni, head of Jan Samasya Nivaran Manch, who watched the play on Monday and submitted a complaint to police. He alleged that the play also insulted Hinduism.
A group also tried to target director Abhishek Majumdar, shouting slogans denouncing him and Pakistan.
“I was not disrespectful to anybody. Those who are objecting only picked up particular words which are in context to particular scenes and chose to feel offended,” said Majumdar. “The play has a censor certificate because it opened in Maharashtra, where you cannot perform without a censor certificate. All the verbatim lines in the play have been included after taking permission from the people who said these, among them CRPF men, who are only too happy to have the play because it tells their story.”
Police Inspector Mangi Lal from Bajaj Nagar station said, “This play was about stone-pelters in J&K. I have not watched the play but there were some adverse comments about it, which I read in newspapers. Once we informed the JKK administration about the objections, they withdrew it.” He said that while no FIR was lodged, “the matter is being investigated”.
In a single-line order on Tuesday, JKK’s Additional Director General Rajendra Vijay said the staging of the play has been cancelled “due to unavoidable circumstances”.
The English-language script of ‘Djinns of Eidgah’ is part of UGC’s MA course.
The protagonists whose lives intersect in the play range from an orphan boy who wants to be a footballer but is compelled to join a mob, a young militant who is burnt to death, and two young CRPF soldiers facing off with stone-pelters. Majumdar wrote the script after seven years of research, during which he lived in bunkers with the CRPF.
Majumdar, who left Jaipur for an undisclosed location in another city, said, “The English-language version of the play has been performed by us in the Royal Court in London, in the US, Canada, and by college students in India more than once. It is not a play that’s new. What’s new is that it is now in Hindi and Urdu.”