A picture of Munawar Faruqui.
A picture of Munawar Faruqui.

Munawar performed the same set in Bengaluru thrice before: What got the cops this time?

‘Dongri to Nowhere’ is the stand-up set that Munawar has been performing for over a year across the country, since before he was arrested for a joke he didn’t crack.

Gujarat-based comedian Munawar Faruqui’s show at Good Shepherd Auditorium in Bengaluru on November 28, Sunday was cancelled after the Bengaluru police objected to it. The police claimed that Munawar is a ‘controversial figure’ and his show could create law and order problems. However, it is ironic that the Bengaluru police suddenly found the show to be a threat to law and order, when Munawar has performed the same show — called ‘Dongri to Nowhere’ — thrice in the past one year in Bengaluru. In fact, on August 28, he performed the same show for an audience at the same Good Shepherd auditorium. 

“We did not even anticipate there would be any trouble as he has performed thrice in Bengaluru in the recent past — in December 2020 and then in July and August 2021. Moreover the show has a censor pass certificate from the Stage Performance Scrutiny Board of the Government Of Maharashtra,” Munawar’s friend who was helping him organise the event in Bengaluru tells TNM.

Munawar was arrested in January 2021 by the Indore police based on an FIR that was filed even before Munawar staged his show. The Indore police had claimed that the rehearsals indicated that Munawar would “hurt religious sentiments.” The Supreme Court granted him bail in this case in February 2021 and called the FIR ‘vague’.

In their letter to the organisers, the Bengaluru police mentioned the case filed against Munawar in Indore; however they conveniently forgot to mention that at least two right wing groups — Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and the Jai Sri Ram Sena Organisation — had objected to the event and that was the real reason behind the police’s refusal.

In fact, in a video released on social media, a member of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti said they have approached the police regarding cancelling the show. “A comedian from Gujarat named Munawar is doing a comedy show in Good Shepherd Auditorium in Bengaluru's Richmond Town at 4 pm today. In all his shows organised across India, he has spoken badly against Hinduism and Hindu gods. He has committed the crime of hurting the religious sentiments of the majority Hindus. A case was registered against him in Indore of Madhya Pradesh and he was kept in jail for 37 days. Again this program has been organised to hurt the majority Hindu religious sentiments. Hindu organizations have already expressed anger about this,” the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member said in the video.

Calling out the police action, senior lawyer BT Venkatesh, who has worked as the Karnataka state Public Prosecutor says, “This is an onslaught on the freedom of expression. This shows that the police are unable to protect freedom of express, and law and order. If some unruly elements challenge and want a programme cancelled, the state should deal with them, but here instead the government is working with those elements.”

Venkatesh points out that people may not like a performance or may even loathe it, but that is no reason to stall it. “I, too, may not like his comedy, but he has every right to perform. The police’s refusal amounts to dereliction of duty. This shows this is a paranoid and sectarian state that has little respect for fundamental rights. Also, legally it is not permissible to bar such events unless the police can demonstrate clear and present danger. Even a political programme cannot be banned on these grounds, and this is just an entertainment programme,” he points out.

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