Despite support from the BJP, the Pakistani singer’s show was cancelled after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the performance would be an insult to Indian martyrs
Just days before Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali was to cross the border for a performance in Mumbai, it is the Shiv Sena and BJP who have drawn battle lines over the concert. Despite Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis speaking in favour of the show, it was cancelled yesterday, following threats of a protest by the Sena.
Sena activists yesterday threatened to launch a protest against the concert unless it was cancelled
According to the Sena, Pakistan is waging war against India, and the two countries cannot have cultural ties. The BJP, on the other hand, says it supports the show, since art is not limited by borders.
Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali will not be performing in Mumbai on October 9, confirmed the event organiser. File pic
Pakistan Ghazal legend Ghulam Ali’s concert was scheduled to be held on October 9 at Shanmu-khananda hall in Sion East. Yesterday, however, Akshay Badrapurkar, general secretary of Chitrapat Sena (Shiv Sena’s cinema and artists’ wing) met the venue manager to ask that the show be cancelled. The venue has often been used by the Sena for its own programmes.
“We are against any form of cultural association with Pakistan. We cannot have ties with a country that kills our soldiers. They are against us, so why should we let their singers perform here?” Badrapurkar told mid-day. “Today we are requesting them to cancel the programme. If they don't, we will be forced to protest in our style,” he added.
‘Show must go on’
Sena ally BJP has taken an opposite stand. “Whether in power or not, we have never opposed any artiste from any country. We believe artistes are not limited to any country; they belong to the world. We have no issue with the show going on,” said BJP spokesperson Niranjan Shetty.
The CM was also reported as being in favour of the programme, saying that since Indian artistes had performed in Pakistan earlier, Pakistani artistes should also be able to do the same here. Under threat from the Sena, however, the show was eventually cancelled. All pass holders will be refunded, said the event organiser.
Thackeray is a fan of Ghulam Ali, says organiser
The event organiser of Ek Ehsaas confirmed last evening that Ustad Ghulam Ali’s show had indeed been cancelled after a meeting with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
“We have decided to call off the show. Thackeray sir is a fan of Ghulam Ali and mentioned that he has no problem with the artiste. I agree with his take that India’s border issues have worsened over the years, and holding this concert will be an insult to the martyrs and their widows,” said Randhir Ranjan Roy, founder and business head of Panache Media, which was organising the charity concert.
“We had started Ek Ehsaas in 2012, when relations between the two countries were better. We even saw cricket matches. Earlier this year, Modi visited Pakistan and it seemed things would get better. However, post Pakistan’s stance at the UN meeting, we feel the border security situation has worsened,” Roy added.
The company will not approach the BJP over the matter, he informed mid-day, adding, “We are a small and relatively new organising company and don’t want to get into a political problem.”
'Ambassador of peace'
Asked how the ghazal maestro had reacted to the news, Roy told this paper, “As a musician, he is an ambassador of peace, and would not want to perform if officials have a problem, or if it becomes the reason for conflict.”
Not the first time
The Sena had earlier in April protested against Pakistani pop singer, Atif Aslam’s concert in Pune. The party was also against the Pakistan cricket team playing on Indian soil, and had similarly opposed participation by athletes from across the border during past kabbadi and hockey championships.
- Dhara Vora