World Bulletin / News Desk
Two concerts by Ghulam Ali, a veteran Pakistani singer, scheduled for this week in the Indian state of Maharashtra were canceled by the organizers after a regional Hindu right-wing party took exception to the events.
"I am not angry, but I am hurt," Ali admitted. "We came here to share love," he added.
The Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist party that is part of the coalition government in Maharashtra State, asked organizers to cancel the concerts after the deadly clashes Monday in the India-occupied Kashmir.
At a news conference following the cancellation, the Shiv Sena's leader made it clear that his party objected to the events simply because of Ghulam Ali's nationality.
"Terrorism and cultural ties cannot go hand in hand," Aditya Thackeray said.
With its muscular brand of hard-line politics and the sometimes violent protests by its followers, the Shiv Sena has long been a powerful, and feared, presence in Mumbai, the Maharashtra state capital.
Fearing a disruption of Ali's concert, Leo Fernandis, the manager of the venue in Mumbai, Shanmukhananda Hall, said he had asked the organizers to contact the Shiv Sena to reach an agreement, or else the show would be canceled.
But the cancellation of Ali's events on Wednesday was notable because he has held many concerts in India over the decades, and he remains very popular here. Last year, Ali, a singer of Urdu poems known as ghazals, performed without incident in Mumbai to an almost full house at Shanmukhananda Hall, which has a capacity of just under 3,000.
In April, Ali performed at a music festival at a famous Hindu temple in the holy city of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh State, and paid tribute to a celebrated Indian musician, Bismillah Khan.
The Maharashtra government had promised security for the concerts this week but that assurance was not enough for the organizers or venue owners.
"You know the Shiv Sena people," said Fernandis, the manager of Shanmukhananda Hall, "they may throw stones, create other troubles for the show."
Representatives of Panache Media, the Indian company that had organized the events, decided to call off the performances after meeting with Shiv Sena officials.
"You can enjoy the music only in relaxed atmosphere," said Randhir Ranjan Roy, Panache Media's business development manager. Regarding Shiv Sena, he said, "They are not against Ghulam Ali, but they are against Pakistan."
Pakistan's envoy to India, Abdul Basit, registered disappointment over the cancellations in a statement issued late Wednesday, noting that "Indian artists when they go to Pakistan, they do not face such opposition."Last Mod: 09 Ekim 2015, 09:43