After Ahmedabad and Mumbai, two of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui‘s shows in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, scheduled for November 14, were cancelled after the Bajrang Dal threatened organisers, Scroll.in reported.
Bajrang Dal, the Hindu nationalist militant organisation that forms the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), also sent a letter to the police on Monday demanding that the shows be stopped. In case the police failed to stop the shows, then the Bajrang Dal would do so themselves and the administration would be responsible for this, said the letter, which was reviewed by Scroll.in.
The extremist outfit alleged in the letter that Faruqui mocks the Hindu gods Ram, Sita and Shiva as well as the “kar sevaks” (someone who freely offers their services to a dharmic or religious cause) who died in the 2002 Godhra train fire in Gujarat.
Leaders of the VHP and Bajrang Dal also met senior police officials with the same demand on Monday. “Faruqui mocked our gods in the past and such anti-Hindu people should not be permitted in the capital. And if the administration permits, it will be the administration’s responsibility because we will stop the programme in our own way,” said VHP leader Santosh Chaudhary.
The attack on the comedian by right-wing Hindu groups in the country began early this year when Faruqui was arrested on January 1 in Indore for allegedly “hurting religious sentiments” with his show.
When Faruqui was performing at Indore’s Monroe Cafe, local BJP legislator Malini Laxman Singh Gaur’s son Aklavya Gaur Singh, who claimed to be the head of a youth organisation named Hind Rakshak, went on stage and disrupted the show. The comedian, and those in the audience who raised their voice in support of Faruqui, were manhandled.
Later, Faruqui, his friend Sadakat Khan, who was in the audience, three other comedians performing at the show, and the event coordinator were all arrested.
Faruqui was accused of cracking jokes on Hindu deities, Godhra riots, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the show and was denied bail several times despite lack of video evidence.
Later, in September, the Bajrang Dal had said that it would not allow the comedian to perform in Gujarat and had threatened the organisers to cancel the scheduled shows or face consequences.
Again, in October, three shows in Mumbai were cancelled by Faruqui citing concerns about “audience safety.” Owners of the venues where these shows were to be hosted told The Indian Express that members of the Bajrang Dal had come down to Mumbai from Gujarat and threatened to burn their places down if they went ahead with the show that the extremist organisation claimed was “against Hindus.” One of the organisers also cited “tremendous pressure” from the police as a reason for cancelling the show. The police had allegedly served notice that the owners would be booked in case of any disruption to law and order.