Another Show By Comedian Munawar Faruqui Cancelled After Pressure From Hindu Right

New Delhi: Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui saw another one of his live shows being cancelled because of protests from right-wing groups. This is his second show to be cancelled just in Bengaluru.

Scheduled for Saturday, the show was cancelled late on Friday because, according to deputy commissioner of police (south) P. Krishnakanth, the organisers had not sought permission, Indian Express reported.

A Hindutva outfit had petitioned city police commissioner C.H. Pratap Reddy alleging that Faruqui had hurt Hindu sentiments in his shows by making insulting remarks about Lord Ram and goddess Sita.

In November 2021, Faruqui had another show cancelled by the police. Both the cancelled shows carried the same title, “Dongri to Nowhere”.

A slew of cancelled shows

The most recent case is at least the 13th time the Muslim comedian has become a target of Hindutva groups, leading to the cancellation of his show.

Early last year, he was charged with hurting religious sentiments based on the complaint of the son of a BJP MLA and arrested even before the allegedly offensive show took place.

The BJP leader’s son had claimed that he overheard Faruqui allegedly passing “indecent remarks” about Hindu deities and Union home minister Amit Shah while rehearsing for an Indore show but could not submit proof of this. Nonetheless, Faruqui was incarcerated for a month, along with others, before the Supreme Court granted him bail.

Before that, the Madhya Pradesh high court had twice rejected his bail pleas, saying that “such people must not be spared”.

Faruqui’s imprisonment had been widely decried as a miscarriage of justice and a flagrant trampling upon his basic rights and his freedom of expression, with outrage even reaching foreign shores. “Comedy and satire are necessary to ensure a healthy democracy, as they facilitate the free communication of new ideas and critical thinking,” Director of PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection, Julie Trébault had said then.

Since he received bail, right-wing groups have ensured that Faruqui’s performances have not been able to continue smoothly. In mid November, two sold-out shows in Goa were cancelled after a right-wing Hindu group “threatened to set themselves on fire” if it took place. A week before that, Faruqui’s planned shows in Raipur, Madhya Pradesh were cancelled after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal threatened the local administration with protests if permission was granted. Late last month, two shows featuring Faruqui were cancelled after members of the Hindutva group Bajrang Dal travelled from Gujarat to Mumbai and threatened the venue owners.

Hyderabad show to continue as scheduled

A BJP MLA in Telangana, T. Raja Singh was on Friday taken into preventive custody by the police in Hyderabad here when he tried to reach the venue of a show by Faruqui. Singh allegedly threatened to cause damage at the venue at Madhapur in a video that has gone viral.

Faruqui’s show is scheduled for Saturday, and the comedian said on Instagram that it will continue as planned.

Singh, the MLA from Goshamahal in Hyderabad, was taken into preventive custody from his residence at Mangalhat in the old city and will be released, the police said.

Singh, known for his strong Hindutva views, alleged that Faruqui had insulted Hindu Gods in his show in the past and that had attracted police cases.

The MLA took exception to ruling TRS working president and state minister K.T. Rama Rao reportedly extending an invite to Faruqui.

Featured image: Munawar Faruqui/Instagram

(With PTI inputs)