Bengaluru Police Make Organisers Cancel Comedian Munawar Faruqui's Show

According to the comedian, this is his 12th show to be cancelled in two months do to pressure from right-wing groups and the authorities.

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New Delhi: For the fourth time in the span of 30 days, comedian Munawar Faruqui’s public shows have been cancelled after pressure from right-wing groups and the police. This time, police in Bengaluru wrote to organisers of the show, asking them not to hold the event at the Good Shepherd auditorium on Sunday.

Faruqui released a statement on Sunday morning, stating that this was his 12th show that had been called off in the last two months because of threats to organisers and audiences. He also suggested that he was done trying to keep going, and bid his audiences goodbye.

The Ashoknagar Police wrote to Vishesh Dhuria, the head of Curtain Call events, on Saturday, referring to Faruqui as a “controversial figure as he was been in controversial statements and on other religion Gods (sic)”. The letter also claimed that “many states have banned his comedy shows” – which is false; while Faruqui’s shows have been cancelled after threats of protest and even violence from right-wing Hindu groups, no state has “banned” him. The police letter appears to have been drafted in a hurry, with several incomplete sentences and grammatical errors.

“There is credible information that several organizations opposing this stand-up-Comedy show performed by Munawar Faruqui, this could create chaos and could disturb the public peace and harmony which may further lead to Low & order problems. Therefore it is suggested that you should cancel the Mr. Munawar Faruqui stand-up – Comedy show (sic),” the letter continues.

According to the Times of India, a police officer said they had not granted permission for the show and would initiate legal action against the organisers if it was held.

The Bengaluru police’s letter.

The police’s letter also refers to a case registered against Faruqui in Indore. Early this year, 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”.

Faruqui’s imprisonment had been widely decried as a miscarriage of justice and a flagrant trampling upon his basic rights and his freedom of expression, with outrage even reaching foreign shores. “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.

Since he received bail, right-wing groups have ensured that Faruqui’s performances have not been able to continue smoothly. In mid November, two sold-out shows in Goa were cancelled after a right-wing Hindu group “threatened to set themselves on fire” if it took place. A week before that, Faruqui’s planned shows in Raipur, Madhya Pradesh were cancelled after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal threatened the local administration with protests if permission was granted. 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.