Controversial comedian Munawar Faruqui is once again in the news after yet another scheduled event got canceled. Faruqui said several events have been called off in the last two months due to alleged threats of vandalism. The comedian was to perform in Bengaluru on Sunday, but the Bengaluru Police asked the organisers to cancel the show titled "Dongri to Nowhere" citing law and order issues.
This is not the first time Faruqui's shows have been canceled in the past on similar grounds. The visibly frustrated comic shared a statement on his social media handles, hinting at never performing again. His show in Bengaluru had already sold 600 tickets and Faruqui said that proceeds from the event were meant to go to a charity of late-actor Puneeth Rajkumar.
"I think this is The End. My name is Munawar Faruqui and that's been my time, you guys were wonderful audience. Good bye! I'm done (sic)." He captioned the screenshot of the statement with the caption "Nafrat ki jeet hai, Artist haar gaya. I'm done! Goodbye! INJUSTICE (sic)."
Faruqui's shows and controversies
Cancellation of the Bengaluru show comes days after his Goa show was canceled following protests by Hindu groups. Sources said that the decision by the event agency to cancel the show, was taken after a meeting with officials at the Panaji police station late on Saturday, who cautioned the organisers about a possible law and order situation arising on account of Faruqui's act.
Faruqui was arrested earlier this year and spent a month behind the bars for allegedly passing "indecent remarks" on Hindu deities and Amit Shah. Faruqui, in his statement, noted how he was jailed for a joke he did not do.
"Putting me in jail for the joke I never did to cancelling my shows, which has nothing problematic in it. This is unfair. This show has gained so much love from people in India irrespective of their religion. This is unfair. We do have censor certificate of the show and it's clearly nothing problematic in the show. We called off 12 shows in the last two months because of threats to venue and audience," the comedian said in the long Instagram post.
Read the full statement below:
Activists have criticized the city police for allegedly heeding to the threats of protest by right activists. "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," said human rights advocate B.T. Venkatesh.
"It is sad that a systematic campaign by Hindutva groups has scuttled a comedian, just because of his religion," another advocate-activist Vinay Sreenivasa said, according to the Hindu.
The Bengaluru arm of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti had petitioned the Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant on Saturday, calling for the show to be canceled. "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?" the petition read.
Mohan Gowda, spokesperson, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Karnataka, thanked Commissioner Pant, DG & IGP Praveen Sood, Mr. Bommai and Mr. Jnanendra "for cancelling anti-Hindu Munawar Faruqui programme in Bengaluru".
Anti-Hindu Stand Up comedian #MunawarFaruqui's program cancelled in Bengaluru after memorandum submitted to @CPBlr by HJS & Jai Sriram Sena@HinduJagrutiOrg thanks the @CPBlr & the authorities for the prompt action taken— HJS Bangalore (@HJSBangalore) November 28, 2021
HJS demands a tough law against denigration of deities pic.twitter.com/MCSb9JkpgA
When Belagavi police asked Christians to lay low
While the Bengaluru police has been on the receiving end of criticism, it's not the first instance from Karnataka that activists say highlights police's inability to act against RW activists. Earlier this week, church-goers in Belagavi received a "friendly warning" by the cops to avoid mass gatherings to avoid RW attacks.
"A few pastors were called and told to not conduct prayers saying right wing groups may attack them and the police will not be able to give them protection," Pastor Thomas Johnson told TNM. "It is not banned because they have not given anything in writing, but they say it is to maintain communal harmony. In Camp and Tilakwadi police station jurisdictions, where Pastor Cherian was attacked, the police told the pastors that if you have your own church buildings, you can conduct prayer meetings but do not hold them in rented buildings or private houses," he added.
"They (rightwing activists) barge into churches, break things, attack people, but finally cases are booked against pastors accusing them of forced conversion. Many are now conducting prayer meetings on Zoom calls. We do not want to give them a chance," said Pastor Thomas. "Belagavi is being focussed on these activities because the Winter Session will be held here and they want to push for an anti-conversion Bill in the Assembly session," Pastor Benny Paul Saturi said.
Congress was no different
Even though many are slamming the BJP-led government over the recent communal attacks, it is worth noting that similar incidents have happened during the Congress regime. For instance, back in 2012, author Salman Rushdie pulled out of the Jaipur literature festival over assassination threats. Ashok Gehlot was Rajasthan's CM at the time. His book The Satanic Verses was labelled blasphemous, triggering strong reactions from Muslims. Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie's execution.