The Shiv Sena is at it again. This time, the party has forced the organisers to cancel the Mumbai concert of renowned Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali.
Earlier, the party had warned the administration of Shanmukhanand Hall, where the concert was to be held, to cancel the show as the singer belongs to “a country which is firing bullets at Indians.”
“A number of Army men are dying for no reason. We as a patriotic organisation will always oppose the concert by a Pakistani singer. We request you to cancel the show considering the emotions of the citizens,” said the letter by the Sena.
Akshay Bardapurkar, general secretary of party’s Cine Wing told The Hindu that his letter would send the “right message” to the authorities concerned, adding that calling a Pakistani singer to perform was an insult to all Indians.
By evening, the organisers of the concert held a meeting with party president Uddhav Thackeray seeking his intervention. However the discussions were unsuccessful and the concert was cancelled.According to Sena leaders present at the meeting, Mr. Thackeray informed the organisers that his party would not tolerate a Pakistani artist performing in Mumbai.
Interestingly, the singer has been a regular visitor to the city and has previously sung at the same venue.This is not the first time that the Sena has opposed a programme by a Pakistani artist. A few months ago, the party had opposed singer Atif Aslam’s concert in Pune, which had to be cancelled.Sena’s move is also seen as an attempt to counter the strategy of its arch-rival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) which was in the forefront in opposing Pakistani artists performing in India.
Pakistan's High Commission in Delhi also took note of the cancellation, with High Commissioner Abdul Basit saying he "regretted the opposition made by Shiv Sena". "Our position is very clear, we encourage people to people contacts, we encourage our artists to visit both sides and perform. Indian artists when they go to Pakistan do not face such opposition," he told journalists.