Jayant Kaikini’s play stopped midway by Hindutva activists

A group of people said to be associated with Bajrang Dal stopped staging of a Kannada play midway at Anavatti in Sorab taluk of Shivamogga district on Sunday night. Even as the play was going on, a group of people raised slogans and went onto the stage, leaving the actors in shock. They succeeded in ending the play abruptly and forced the audience to leave the venue.

Rangabelaku, a Shivamogga-based theatre group, was staging Jotegiruvanu Chandira, a play by well-known writer and lyricist Jayant Kaikini at Veerashaiva Kalyana Mandira in Anavatti. It is a Kannada adaptation of “Fiddler on the Roof” by Joseph Stein.

Anvatti hobli units of Kannada Sahitya Parishat, Karnataka Janapada Parishat and Kannada Samskruthika Vedike had jointly organised the programme. The play began around 7.45 p.m. As it was going on, a group of Bajrang Dal activists led by Sridhar Achar put pressure on the organisers to stop the play, arguing that the play, featuring Muslim characters, should have not be allowed to be staged in the village.

Actors, audience shocked

Kotrappa G. Hiremagadi, a senior member of the Rangabelaku team, told The Hindu that as he was getting prepared to enter the stage to perform his role, he got calls from the organisers who wanted to talk to him about the pressure on them to stop the play. “A couple of minutes before my entry, some people raised slogans and climbed up to the stage, leaving all of us in shock. We never anticipated this,” said Mr. Hiremagadi.

Sridhar Achar, a local Bajrang Dal activist, maintained that a play featuring Muslim characters would not be allowed to be staged in the marriage hall belonging to Veerashaivas. He asked the audience to leave the place.

“Our troupe has been staging plays for the last 15 years. We chose the play to spread communal harmony and peace in society. A team of 22 actors, including six women, had been to the village to stage the play,” said Mr. Hiremagadi.

Rajeev Reddy, PSI of Anavatti Station, said that by the time his staff reached the place, the play had been stopped.

Many theatre lovers have expressed shock over the incident on social media platforms and demanded action against those stopped the play.

‘Cultural terrorism’

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has termed the incident an “act of cultural terrorism” by RSS affiliates. “It is nothing but an act of cultural terrorism. The State government should arrest all miscreants involved in the act and punish them,” Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 5:19:15 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/jayant-kaikinis-play-stopped-midway-by-hindutva-activists/article65599027.ece