A month after Carnatic musicians faced hate and abuse online for singing devotional songs for religions other than Hinduism, several prominent citizens have issued a statement on Wednesday against the attack on the expression of classical music in India. Several Carnatic musicians, over the past few weeks, have been at the receiving end of abuses and threats for singing Carnatic devotional songs for non-Hindu gods.
Renowned Carnatic musician TM Krishna tweeted the statement, which registered protest against musicians like OS Arun, Nithyasree Mahadevan and himself being harassed online and their concerts being cancelled. In a notable gesture of protest, Krishna announced that he would be releasing a Carnatic song every month on Jesus or Allah.
The statement was signed by 175 people, including activists, eminent filmmakers, journalists, historians and other artists. Noteworthy names include veteran journalist P Sainath, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, Bharatnatyam dancer Leela Samson, anti-manual scavenging activist Bezwada Wilson and activists Romila Thapar, Perumal Murugan and Nityanand Jayaraman, among others.
â€” T M Krishna (@tmkrishna) September 19, 2018
The statement is titled â€śReclaiming our Heritage: statement condemning the attack on classical musical expression in south Indiaâ€ť. It recounts the intimidation of eminent classical musicians and the cancellation of their concerts â€śdue to pressure from intolerant forces that claim to speak of behalf on Hindus; thereby seeking to dictate the content and nature of cultural performances and musicâ€ť.
The signees register â€śstrong protestâ€ť and condemn â€śthis continual harassment, intimidation and use of other undemocratic methods to silence voicesâ€ť and defend that their music is an expression of â€ścreativity, unity, humanityâ€ť which shape the modern syncretic tradition of Indian music.
Hitting out against the climate of â€śsocial policing and restrictions on writers, thinkers and artistsâ€ť the statement says this has raised fear in the minds of people. â€śIt reflects the failure of the rule of law and constitutional guarantees. It is alarming that neither independent institutions such as courts nor the governments whose duty it is to protect democratic space and freedom of expression, have stepped in to take decisive steps to end this menace,â€ť it adds.
Recounting how several musicians received threats from right-wing Hindu organisations, Krishna announced, â€śConsidering the vile comments and threats issued by many on social media regarding Carnatic compositions on Jesus, I announce here that I will be releasing one Carnatic song every month on Jesus or Allah.â€ť
The statement concludes: â€śAll music is open to participation of people of all communities, and musical heritage belongs to humanity. We condemn the nascent attempts to limit and stifle free expression and invite you to join in voicing your protest.â€ť
Read it in full here.