Comedian Munawar Faruqui on Wednesday cancelled three of his shows in Mumbai after Hindutva groups threatened the organisers. They also ran an online hate campaign against Faruqui and wrote to the Mumbai Police demanding that the shows be stopped.
“The safety of the audience is what matters most to me,” Faruqui said in a tweet. “I don’t want my audience to go through what I am experiencing.”
Hindutva groups have constantly targeted Faruqui since he was arrested in January in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city based on a complaint filed by the son of a Bharatiya Janata Party politician.
The complainant had alleged that the comedian was going to make objectionable statements about Hindu deities at his show.
People at the club where Faruqui was scheduled to perform had said that the police detained him before he had actually begun his show. The Indore Police had later admitted that there was no visual evidence to show that Faruqui had insulted Hindu deities.
The latest shows in Mumbai were scheduled for October 29 at a hall in the city’s Borivali (West) area and on October 30 and 31 at the Rangsharda Auditorium in Bandra (West), according to The Indian Express.
“We were threatened on Tuesday afternoon by three members of Bajrang Dal...They said this show was against Hindus,” said Purnima Shah, the owner of Rangsharda auditorium. “I told them that the organiser has censor certificate, but still the Bajrang Dal members were threatening us...They told us they will burn the place, so we decided to cancel the show.”
On Tuesday, the Konkan region unit of the Vishva Hindu Parishad had written to the Mumbai Police chief demanding that the shows be stopped. The VHP claimed that Faruqui had hurt sentiments of the Hindu community by insulting its deities.
Hindutva supporters also ran an online hate campaign against Faruqui, demanding that his shows should not be allowed. #GoBackMunawar was one of the trending topics on Twitter last week.
The intimidation tactics follow a pattern as last month Hindutva groups had forced Faruqui to cancel his shows in Gujarat. The Bajrang Dal had threatened the organisers in Gujarat of “financial, physical and mental consequences”.
Last week, Devnath, the in-charge of the Gujarat unit of the Hindu Yuva Vahini had tweeted saying, “I did not allow even a single program of this Anti-Hindu Munawar Faruqui to happen in Gujarat. Now Mumbai also says #GoBackMunawar.”