Comedian Kunal Kamra’s Gurgaon Show Cancelled Under Pressure From Bajrang Dal, VHP – The Wire
Members of the right-wing groups, in a memorandum to the Gurgaon police, claimed that Kamra 'mocks and makes fun of Hindu deities in his show.' The comedian says there is no evidence to back these claims.
Kunal Kamra. Photo: YouTube screengrab
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New Delhi: The management of a bar in Gurgaon has decided to cancel stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra’s show, scheduled to be held next weekend, allegedly under pressure from right-wing groups Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Indian Express reported.
Studio Xo bar, where Kamra was scheduled to perform on September 17 and 18, told the newspaper that two men from Bajrang Dal had objected to the show and threatened to disrupt it. Though they accused the comedian of being “anti-Hindu”, Kamra rejected the claims.
Several of Kamra’s shows have been cancelled in the past after objections from right-wing groups.
“We have decided to cancel the show. I do not want any trouble… Two men from Bajrang Dal had come and they threatened to disrupt the show. They objected to the show and said that they will not allow the show to happen. I spoke with the owners, police, and the comedian and I don’t want any risk to my company and organisation… so we have decided to cancel it,” said Sahil Dawra, general manager, Studio Xo Bar.
But sources told the daily that at least six-seven members of the two outfits went to the bar and asked the management to cancel the show.
However, the management has not lodged any complaint with the police in connection with this matter. “We have not lodged any complaint with the police. We have written to the ticketing company and initiated the process to cancel the show,” he added.
On September 9, Friday afternoon, members of Bajrang Dal and VHP, in a memorandum to the Gurgaon deputy commissioner, claimed that Kamra “mocks and makes fun of Hindu deities in his show,” and requested that the show be cancelled.
“One artist by the name of Kunal Kamra is organising a show at Studio Xo Bar in sector 29 Gurgaon on September 17. Yeh vyakti apne show mein Hindu devi va devtaon ka mazak udata hai (This person mocks Hindu deities in his show). An FIR has also been filed against him earlier in this regard. Iss show ke karan Gurgaon mein tanav utpan ho sakta hai (A tense situation may arise in Gurgaon due to this show). It is requested that the show be cancelled with immediate effect, otherwise Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers will protest against it,” read the memorandum, as per the report.
Praveen Saini alias Praveen Hindustani, the district coordinator of Bajrang Dal, told The Indian Express, “We met the management of the bar and told them to cancel the show… Such artistes, who attack Hindu faith, will not be allowed to perform in Gurgaon and any such insults will not be tolerated. We handed over a memorandum to a magistrate and requested them to cancel the show as it could disturb communal harmony and create a potential law and order situation.”
Calling him an ‘anti-Hindu’ and a hatemonger, VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal wrote on Twitter: “In the name of freedom of speech, some artists want to destroy art completely. We will not let him (Kamra) perform anywhere. We will protest democratically and teach such people that Hindu sentiments must be respected.”
VHP today given a letter to the @DC_Gurugram to cancel the show of AntiHindu Kunal Kamra scheduled in Gurugram on 17th of this month. These hatemongers must be booked under panel provisions of law. Can’t be allowed to perform in public. The @gurgaonpolice sud take action. pic.twitter.com/jbLWPX4IRU
— विनोद बंसल Vinod Bansal (@vinod_bansal) September 9, 2022
“The organisers are yet to reach out to me regarding the cancellation. So, I cannot comment more on this,” he was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
When The Wire reached out to Kamra, he said, “I have been commenting for [the last] five years and have nothing left to say.”
On Twitter, Kamra said that there is no evidence to support the claims made by the right-wing groups. He tweeted: “He makes fun of our culture we claim, He makes fun of our deities we think… We have no evidence but his show disrupts our peace… 12 of us don’t want the show to happen & 500 have got tickets to watch it… So what should the authorities do? (UPSC question 10 marks)”
He makes fun of our culture we claim,
He makes fun of our deities we think,
We have no evidence but his show disrupts our peace,
12 of us don’t want the show to happen & 500 have got tickets to watch it,
So what should the authorities do?
(UPSC question 10 marks) https://t.co/wQMgRfXHEE
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) September 9, 2022
This has come weeks after stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui’s shows were cancelled in Bengaluru and Delhi after pressure from the Hindu right-wing groups. They had made the same claim against Faruqui – that he “insults Hindu gods and goddesses.”
Kamra has frequently been in the crosshairs of the current Bharatiya Janata Party government and its supporters, primarily because of his outspoken critique of policies and rising intolerance.
In December last year, multiple shows of Kamra were cancelled in Bengaluru over ‘threats’ by right-wing groups ‘to close down the venue’ if the shows were held.
Kamra had responded to the cancellation of his shows on Twitter, saying: “They [the shows] have been cancelled for two reasons. Firstly, we didn’t get special permissions to seat 45 people in the venue that can seat more. Secondly, threats have been made to shut down the venue if I were to ever perform there. I guess this is also part of the COVID protocol and new guidelines. I suppose I am seen as a variant of the virus now.”
Cancelling comedy shows 101.
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) December 1, 2021