On November 28, stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui hinted that he may not do shows anymore, just a day after his event scheduled in Bengaluru was canceled. Police had “advised” the organizers to call it off citing possible law and order problems, and earlier, his shows have been canceled scheduled in other cities too on similar grounds.
City police had informed the organizers of the event that the scheduled event which was planned to be held on November 28 evening, “should cancel the show”, as several groups are opposed to it and also this “could create chaos and could disturb the public peace and harmony, which may further lead to law and order problems”. The police passed the letter on November 27 night.
Mr. Faruqui, who had come to the city for the show, left on November 28 morning after he posted a statement on his social media handles, as he indirectly hinted at quitting the space. While lamenting how he was jailed just for a joke he did not do and of continuous canceling of 12 shows in the last two months due to the threats to venue and audience, he wrote: “I think this is the end. My name is Munawar Faruqui and that’s been my time, you guys were a wonderful audience. Goodbye! I am done.”
Organizers of the November 28 event said Mr. Faruqui felt dejected at how he is being continuously targeted and Mr. Faruqui was himself not available for further comment.
In January earlier this year, Mr. Faruqui was arrested in Indore as a Hindutva right-wing activist alleged that he denigrated Hindu gods. As a result, he spent 37 days in jail, and then the Supreme Court granted him bail.
Bengaluru Police canceling the show is just something similar to the 12 shows of the comic being similarly canceled by the police in Maharashtra and Gujarat this month alone, also a campaign by Hindutva right-wing organizations which called for a ban on the artist and threatens protests if his shows are held.
The city police move has also come under much criticism by rights activists in the city. “It is sad that a systematic campaign by Hindutva groups has scuttled a comedian, just because of his religion,” said advocate-activist Vinay Sreenivasa. “It is sad to note that a threat of a protest leads to stifling of freedom of expression in this city. Some groups cannot hold the city to ransom. Society needs to stand by the artist,” human rights advocate B.T. Venkatesh said.
In the city, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, an organization, petitioned Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant on Saturday, tweeting out the letter as they tagged Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, Bengaluru South MP Tejaswi Surya, Uttara Kannada MP Anantkumar Hegde among others.
The petition mentioned Mr. Faruqui is in the habit of making “unacceptable” jokes on “Hindu Gods, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2020, Godhra massacre of Karsevaks”. “Allowing Munawar Faruqui, who hurts religious sentiments of Hindus, is providing an opportunity for him to repeat those crimes.” It further asked, “Should such a programme that disturbs the communal harmony be allowed when the memories of DJ Halli riots are still fresh?” They also threatened to take to the streets if the stand-up show is accepted to be held.
After some hours, the police of Ashok Nagar issued the letter to the organizers as they advised them that they “should cancel the show”. The letter, though doesn’t mention the HJS petition, mentions they have much information that several organizations are opposing the show and the organizers had informed Ashok Nagar police of the show “Dongri to Nowhere” in a letter on November 15, as they do not need to take permission since it is an indoor show, and the police had not taken objection to the same until HJS petitioned the police. Sources in the police said that they were pointed out for “not cancelling the show earlier” and were asked to cancel it as soon as possible. Senior police officials refused to make any further comment.
The spokesperson, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Karnataka, Mohan Gowda made a tweet on November 28 morning as he thanked Commissioner Pant, DG & IGP Praveen Sood, Mr. Bommai and Mr. Jnanendra “for cancelling anti-Hindu Munawar Faruqui programme in Bengaluru.”