India: Pakistani singer’s concerts cancelled after protests


Two concerts by the veteran Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali scheduled in the Indian state of Maharashtra were cancelled by the organisers after a regional Hindu right-wing party took exception to the events.

The Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist party that is part of the coalition government in Maharashtra State, asked the organisers to cancel the concerts after the killing of four Indian soldiers in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir.

Aditya Thackeray   head of Yuva Sena, the youth wing of Shiv Sena, and son of Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray  made it clear that the party objected to the events simply because of Mr Ali’s nationality.

With its muscular brand of hard-line politics and the sometimes violent protests by its followers, the Shiv Sena has long been a powerful, and feared, presence in Mumbai, the Maharashtra state capital.

Fearing a disruption of Mr Ali’s concert, Leo Fernandis, the manager of the venue in Mumbai, Shanmukhananda Hall, said he had asked the organisers to contact the Shiv Sena to reach an agreement, or else the show would be cancelled.

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India: Pakistani actors not allowed in Maharashtra

After preventing famous singer Ghulam Ali from performing in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena has now ‘banned’ Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan from Maharashtra. The party has vowed not to let the actors – who are both acting in big-ticket Bollywood projects – promote their upcoming films in Maharashtra.

Fawad, who made his Bollywood debut with the 2014 film Khoobsurat, has more Hindi films in his kitty including Dharma Productions’ Kapoor and Sons and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. On the other hand, Mahira is all set to make her Bollywood debut with Rahul Dholakia’s Raees, in which she stars alongside Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

“We have taken a stand not to allow any Pakistani actor, cricketer or performer to step on Maharashtra soil,” said Chitrapat Sena general secretary Akshay Bardapurkar. Talking about their plans, he added, “Shiv Sena won’t let the Pakistani actors in the films Mahira Khan (Raees) and Fawad Khan (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) promote the films in Maharashtra,” Bardapurkar said.

» Hindustan Times – 21 October 2015:
Pak actors Fawad, Mahira Khan won’t be allowed in Maharashtra: Sena


India: Artists protest alleged climate of intolerance

Indian artists and scientists have accused the administration of Narendra Modi, the prime minister, of stoking Hindu nationalism and curtailing freedom of expression. More than 40 authors have handed back major honours in a stand against ‘vicious assaults’ on cultural diversity and as a protest against what they have condemned as ‘growing intolerance’ in the country under the present central government.

“Art can only have a home where there is tolerance,” said Sir Anish Kapoor, a famous British-Indian sculptor who has lived in Britain since the 1970s, and who has launched an outspoken attack on the Indian government as he backed a wave of top Indian artists, writers and scientists who have returned prestigious national awards, following the murder of a well-known scholar and the lynching of a Muslim man.

“All good-thinking Indians will recognise the atmosphere of intolerance and intimidation that prevails in our Indian society today. How then can we find creativity or the possibility of expression in this atmosphere of fear? Our government encourages the hate that lies dormant in our great Indian psyche. Can our leaders not see that our tradition has always thrived on our openness and tolerance?”

Sir Salman Rushdie has also voiced his support for the artists returning awards during what he termed “alarming times for free expression in India”.

» Indian Express – 2 November 2015:
The Sahitya Akademi row: All you need to know

» The Telegraph – 29 October 2015:
Top Indian artists and scientists return awards in protest at alleged ‘climate of intolerance’ under Narendra Modi
“British-Indian knights Anish Kapoor and Salman Rushdie voice support for artists’ protests, but Mr Modi’s allies accuse them of ‘manufactured rebellion’ ”

» The National – 20 October 2015:
Hardline Hindu activists step up attacks in India

» The Guardian – 15 October 2015:
Indian writers return awards in protest against ‘climate of intolerance’

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