Condemned in Hindu society for making fun of the community’s culture and belief system, stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui is but enjoying the support of not only deracinated intellectuals and the woke section of society, the Indian National Congress (INC) has jumped onto the bandwagon. After Bengaluru Police asked organisers of his show to call off the event, citing possible law and order problems, India’s oldest and arguably the most corrupt political organisation has taken on the so-called right-wing groups and is working to get him to perform in Mumbai.
“We are in touch with Munawar. We are discussing how to get him here… this is not just about hosting Munawar Faruqui, but about asserting the rights of a citizen,” said Mathew Anthony, the president of the All India Professionals Congress (AIPC), Maharashtra. The AIPC is the frontal wing of the INC for working professionals and entrepreneurs.
Anthony said that his INC-affiliated outfit would make a formal announcement in a few days once they secure his consent. The AIPC is also looking at venues across the city to host the event and a decision will be taken after speaking to the police, venue owners and managers.
Faruqui spent around a month in jail earlier this year after being arrested in Madhya Pradesh on charges of “insulting Hindu gods and goddesses” during one of his shows and had been granted bail by the Supreme Court (SC). The cancellation of his show in Bengaluru had prompted the Muslim stand-up comic to say that he may not do any more shows.
In an Instagram post, Munawar Faruqui said: “Nafrat jeet gayi, artist (sic) haar gaya” (hatred has won, the artiste has lost), and added: “I’m done, goodbye. Injustice.”
In the last two months, roughly 12 of his shows were cancelled due to threats from groups that found his comics unpalatable and insensitive. In October, Faruqui had been forced to cancel his shows scheduled to be held in Mumbai after threats from Bajrang Dal, among the few Hindu organisations that are not singing Mohan Bhagwat’s multicultural tune despite being a wing of the RSS, citing the safety of the audience.
Anthony, whose party is a constituent of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) regime in Maharashtra, said that they would work with the police and the law and order machinery to ensure that Munawar’s proposed event in Mumbai happens peacefully. He added that they would work to “assist Munawar to avail the rights given to him by the Constitution.”
People also had the right to disagree with him, he asserted, adding that “we have to stand for certain values.” “We do not have anything against the right-wing… they can disagree but cannot threaten,” he added.
In 2018, the AIPC, the chairman of which is Shashi Tharoor, author, former international civil servant and Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, had organised a book launch and interaction with former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Kanhaiya Kumar at Bandra in Mumbai. Then, the Mumbai police had initially disallowed the event citing possible law and order issues but acquiesced later.