Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Monday invited comedians Munawar Faruqui and Kunal Kamra to perform at a programme he would organise in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal after their shows were cancelled in Bengaluru.
On December 1, Kamra, a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government, had said that his shows in Bengaluru over the next 20 days have been cancelled because of threats to the venue.
This came three days after Faruqui’s event in Bengaluru was also called off on November 28 after the police warned the organisers against hosting a “controversial figure”. It had led to Faruqui sharing a note indicating that he might have to quit being a comedian.
Over the past few months, Faruqui’s shows have been cancelled in Raipur, Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Goa, and Mumbai as Hindutva groups have constantly targeted him since he was arrested in January in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city.
The comedian was arrested in Indore on the basis of complaints about a purported joke that he had not even made. The complainant had alleged that the comedian was going to make objectionable statements about Hindu gods during the show.
On Monday, Singh suggested that he himself would be the only subject of the comedy show and said that this should not offend Hindutva groups.
“Come don’t be afraid,” the Congress leader tweeted. “Give the date and time as per your convenience. All your conditions are accepted.”
Kamra thanked Singh for the invitation. “Checking if we have life insurance and getting back to you ASAP [as soon as possible],” he tweeted in response.
After his Bengaluru show was cancelled, Faruqui had said that such threats had led to the cancellation of his 12 shows over two months. The latest one was on December 6 when the organisers of Gurgaon Comedy Festival in Haryana removed Faruqui from their list of performers after they received several calls and messages opposing his participation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Haryana head of information technology cell Arun Yadav had filed a police complaint against Faruqui, alleging that the comedian had been continuously hurting the feelings of Hindu community during his performances.
Mubin Tisekar, the co-founder of The Entertainment Factory, which is organising the Gurgaon Comedy Festival, said that the event managers removed Faruqui from the show’s line-up as they did not want to hurt anyone’s sentiments or put the audience in danger.
At the same time, Kamra is facing contempt charges for his tweets criticising the Supreme Court for the manner in which it had fast-tracked Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami’s bail plea in an abetment to suicide case. He had contrasted the trial to the plight of thousands of undertrials languishing in jails across the country, who find it difficult to get a hearing.
In January, the comedian had refused to apologise for his tweets in response to the contempt petition. He had said that “jokes are not reality and do not claim to be so”.