Munawar Faruqui’s show in Hyderabad cancelled, COVID-19 restrictions cited

BJP leaders had warned of widespread protests if the event was given permission in Hyderabad.
Munawar Faruqui smiling while looking away from the camera
Munawar Faruqui smiling while looking away from the camera
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Standup comedian Munawar Faruqui’s show ‘Dhandho’, which was scheduled to be held in Hyderabad on January 9, has been cancelled citing COVID-19 regulations. Munawar Faruqui confirmed the development to TNM and said the show is likely to be rescheduled depending on the COVID-19 situation in the city.

Speaking to TNM, Munawar Faruqui said, “Due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation we had to call off the event. An event of a big magnitude was being planned and hence we had to cancel it. The event will be held on a later date depending on how the COVID-19 situation turns out.”

“The Hyderabad police reached out to us advising us to postpone the event due to the COVID-19 situation because of the regulations presently in the state, which will be in force until January 10. The event has been cancelled due to the restrictions and not due to any other reason,” added Munawar.

TNM tried reaching out to DS Chauhan, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) to enquire about how tickets for other comedy shows are still being sold on ticketing platforms while Munawar’s show has been cancelled citing COVID-19 restrictions. However, the officer who is in charge of granting permissions for events in the city did not revert to messages or calls.

On January 1, the Telangana government announced a ban on rallies, public meetings and mass gatherings of all types including religious, political and cultural events. The orders came into force with immediate effect and will remain in force until January 10, 2022. The show was scheduled for January 9, 2022.   

Munawar’s show had been announced in the city following Telangana Minister and TRS working president KTR’s jibe at the BJP government in Karnataka, after the comedian’s show was cancelled following threats issued by Hindu groups.  Offering an open invite, Minister KTR had said at an event, “We are a truly cosmopolitan city. In our city standup comedians get an open invite. We don’t cancel shows of Munawar Faruqui and Kunal Kamra just because we are not aligned with them politically… We are welcoming of all cultures, we are welcoming of criticism”

Both Munawar Faruqui and Kunal Kamra have lately been at the receiving end of right-wing groups’ ire after they were accused of insulting Hindu deities in their shows. The Bengaluru police described Faruqui as a ‘controversial figure’ and denied permission for Faruqui’s show citing ‘law and order problems'.

Following the announcement of the show, BJP leaders in Hyderabad too had warned of widespread protests if the show was allowed in the city. BJP Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh wrote to the DGP warning of protests if the event is allowed. The letter read, “Munawar Faruqui spreads hatred against Hindu Gods and Goddess. We don't want the peace of Hyderabad to be disturbed in any way." If the event takes place, Hindus will come on roads and protests will take place, the MLA warned.

BJP MP Arvind Dharmapuri had also slammed minister KTR for welcoming Munawar to Hyderabad. The MP had said, “Do you know who Munawar Faruqui is? He has cracked jokes on Goddess Sita, who is worshipped by the majority of Hindus. While a state like Karnataka has banned him, KTR has welcomed him into Telangana to perform comedy. Has the Hindu society become a comedy to this father-son (KCR and KTR)?”

Politics behind the decision

The Hyderabad police had cracked the whip on Telangana BJP President Bandi Sanjay on January 2 by arresting him while he was protesting in Karimnagar. He was booked for defying COVID-19 regulations. There is already a storm brewing in the state with the BJP accusing the TRS of being selective in their crackdown against those defying COVID-19 restrictions.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, BJP’s Dr K Laxman, OBC Morcha national president,  said, “You are arresting people in the name of defying COVID-19 rules, but the TRS can carry out meetings and public meetings. You allow New Year parties and permit pubs and bars and allow people to gather in large numbers - no corona. Large number of people gathered for the flyover inauguration at Shaikpet - no corona. Without masks and physical distancing, TRS can carry out meetings, because no corona. In support of farmers, you carry out rallies in districts - no corona. But when rules are followed by an MP and he protests in his jurisdiction then it becomes an issue.”   

Reacting to allegations of TRS not following COVID-19 regulations, minister KTR told media, “The COVID-19 restrictions came into force from January 1. My last event was on December 31. Once the restrictions came into force I cancelled my tour to the district and other public events.”

Speaking to TNM, a source from Minister KTR’s office said, “All ministers have also been asked to cancel their public meetings and events. Minister KTR has also cancelled his public meetings and inauguration events. Due to the prevailing situation, everyone has been advised to not lower their guard.”

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