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New Delhi: Right-wing Hindu groups in Chhattisgarh have threatened the local administration in Raipur with protests if permission is granted to a planned show by comedian Munawar Faruqui. The show is scheduled for November 14, and groups including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have threatened to stop it if it isn’t cancelled.
According to the Hindustan Times, members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal met with the local police on Monday (November 8) and demanded that the show be cancelled. “Faruqui mocked our Gods in 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,” VHP leader Santosh Chaudhary told the newspaper.
The organiser of the Raipur programme said they were still awaiting permission.
“We have received an application for permission for the show which is in process. The orgainsers have also asked for protection for the show which is scheduled to be held in a hotel… The application has been sent for police approval,” Raipur collector Saurabh Kumar told Hindustan Times.
Late last month, two shows featuring Faruqui were cancelled after members of the Hindutva group Bajrang Dal travelled from Gujarat to Mumbai and threatened the venue owners.
Rightwing groups have trained their guns on Faruqui since the beginning of this year, when he was charged with hurting religious sentiments based on the complaint of the son of a BJP MLA and arrested even before the allegedly offensive show took place.
The BJP leader’s son had claimed that he overheard Faruqui allegedly passing “indecent remarks” about Hindu deities and Union home minister Amit Shah while rehearsing for an Indore show but could not submit proof of this. Nonetheless, Faruqui was incarcerated for a month, along with others, before the Supreme Court granted him bail.
Before that, the Madhya Pradesh high court had twice rejected his bail pleas, saying that “such people must not be spared”.
“Comedy and satire are necessary to ensure a healthy democracy, as they facilitate the free communication of new ideas and critical thinking,” Director of PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection, Julie Trébault had said then.