Controversial television personality Tarek Fatah was involved in a fracas at the Jashn-e-Rekhta festival in Delhi on Sunday. The Pakistan-born writer got into an altercation with a group of over 40 attendees who then shouted slogans and demanded that he be removed from the premises. Police personnel were called in to escort Fatah out of the venue. The incident took place on the final day of the three-day festival.
People who were present at the event told Scroll.in that Fatah had referred to some of the youngsters in the group as “jihadis”, which led to the protests. “If you say things against a certain religion, its people will naturally get angry,” said Shakeb Ahmad, one of the protestors.
The organisers of the event said Fatah, the host of a programme called “Fatah ka Fatwa” on Zee, had not been officially invited to the event, but had gone there in personal capacity. “Our tehzeeb [culture] is not so weak that one person can disrupt things,” a representative of the organisers said. “The programmes are going on as per schedule.”
Fatah has denied the allegations that he provoked the protests. “A bunch of Muslim goons, a mob, attacked me when I was signing autographs,” he said. “The police, instead of catching the others, wanted to throw me out.” Fatah also accused the police of manhandling him.
The police said they have yet to receive any complaint in connection with the incident. “The situation was brought under control by officers deployed at the venue,” said Special Commissioner of Delhi Police (New Delhi range) MK Meena. “No complaint has been received in connection with the matter.”
In December 2016, a talk by Fatah at Punjab University was called off at the last moment after protests against him for calling a student from Jammu and Kashmir a terrorist, reported The Indian Express. However, Fatah had denied the allegations. “This was an attack planned by the Congress youth wing and people backing Left ideology,” he had said after the incident.