Comedian Daniel Fernandes’ Hyderabad show cancelled after threats from BJP MLA Raja Singh

Daniel Fernandes has been receiving strong backlash for his recent satire against the Jain community.
Comedian Daniel Fernandes
Comedian Daniel Fernandes

Comedian Daniel Fernandes’ show Do you Know Who I Am?, which was scheduled for Saturday, June 29 in Hyderabad, was cancelled following threats by BJP MLA T Raja Singh, who alleged that the comedian made offensive remarks against the Jain community. Fernandes, who has been critical of the BJP, was supposed to perform at Heart Cup Coffee in Jubilee Hills at 4 pm. The comedian’s latest satire against the Jains who ‘rescued’ goats disguising themselves as Muslims during Bakri-Eid, has sparked a controversy.

Threatening Fernandes, the BJP Goshamahal MLA said on June 29, “Cancel your show. Else our Karyakarthas will beat you so badly that you will think a 100 times to visit Hyderabad or Telangana.” 

The MLA asked the Hyderabad Police Commissioner to intervene and cancel the show and threatened to make an example out of Fernandes if any comedian ever tries to ‘mock’ the Jain or Hindu community. Raja Singh warned that the BJP would create tension in the city if the show was conducted, similar to what they did when Munawar Faruqui performed in the city in 2022. “You remember when Munawar came to perform, right? I want to make it clear that, if a situation goes out of hand, it is the police’s responsibility.”

Confirming that Fernandes’ show was cancelled, Station House Officer of the Jubilee Hills police station, K Venkateshwar Reddy, told TNM that the organisers had voluntarily cancelled the show. “They did not approach us and make any requisition to provide security,” the SHO said.

The alleged offensive remarks against Jains

On June 24, the Jain community in Delhi reportedly raised Rs 15 lakh to ‘rescue’ goats from being slaughtered during Eid. Posing as Muslims, the community members bought 124 goats from the market.

Making fun of this incident, Fernandes pointed out that Jains are involved in the meat export business. He joked that they did not think through the problem of preserving these goats meant for slaughter. He said that if the population of these 124 goats increases, the Jains would contact Muslims during Eid and make a profit out of it. The video was deleted from his social media accounts after several threats from the Jain community and the Hindu right-wing.

Daniel Fernandes issues statement

In a video statement issued on June 29, the comedian said that they were forced to reschedule the show in Hyderabad after threats of violence. Blaming the Hyderabad police for failing to provide security, he said, “Nobody is ready to guarantee the safety of my audience, my crew and myself. I do not want  to put anyone in harm’s way because of something I said.”

He reminded viewers that the video which offended the Jain community had been taken down. “However, we are still receiving calls, messages and emails threatening us with violence and vandalism.”

Apologising to the Jain community, he said, “It is okay to disagree with an artist’s work, but to say that I will inflict violence upon an artist because I do not like their work isn't the answer. To the members of the Jain community: I will say it again. There was no intention of maligning anybody here. I can see that you are upset. I can see that you are angry. It genuinely makes me sad. I do not like how I am feeling right now. I do not like how you are feeling right now. This is not what comedy is about. Comedy is all about all of us getting together and forgetting our worries and having a laugh.”

Raja Singh’s threats against comedians

This is not the first time that the BJP MLA has threatened to inflict violence on a comedian. In 2022, he made a similar threat against comedian Munawar Faruqui who was set to perform in Hyderabad. The Muslim comedian was accused of hurting Hindu sentiments. While he was initially scheduled to perform in January 2022, the show was called off following threats from Raja Singh. As Hyderabad’s brand image took a beating, then IT Minister KT Rama Rao personally invited Faruqui to perform in Hyderabad assuring his safety and security. Following this, the show was rescheduled in August. And despite strong protests by the BJP, the show was successfully held in the fortified Shilpa Kala Vedika in Madhapur.

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