After the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing Hindu organisation sought the cancellation of famous comedian Munawar Faruqui’s show, scheduled for August 28, 2022, in the national capital, the Delhi police called off the permission.
Earlier, VHP wrote to Delhi Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora seeking the cancellation of a show by the comedian Munawar Faruqui in Delhi. According to sources, JCP (licensing branch) O P Mishra confirmed that the permission has been rejected after receipt of a report by the local (central) district police citing a report that ‘the show will affect communal harmony in the area.’
The licensing branch had given permission to the applicant, Gursimar Singh Rayat, a resident of Vishnu Garden in West Delhi, to organise a comedy show featuring Faruqui at Dr SPM Civic Centre, Kedarnath Sahni Auditorium, on August 28, from 2 pm to 9.30 pm.
However, on August 25, VHP Delhi president Surendra Kumar Gupta sent a letter to the police commissioner for Faruqui’s alleged remarks on Hindu gods in his shows and also blamed him for ‘causing the Bhagyanagar clashes (in Hyderabad)’.
Earlier while speaking to the reporters, VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “We want peace in the city. We don’t want him to mock our Hindu deities. If the police fail to do anything, we will stage protests across the city… We submitted the letter to the Delhi Police HQ and sent an email to the commissioner as well. We want him to take action.”
This comes days after Telangana MLA T Raja Singh, was suspended by the BJP and got arrested by the state police for his remarks on the Prophet in a video posted on social media. had said his video was in response to a show held in Hyderabad by Faruqui.
In the recent past, Faruqui has faced multiple protests and served a month in jail last year over the charges of hurting religious sentiments during a show in Indore.
Earlier this year, Faruqui was arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police in the midst of his comic act under the Hate speech laws in India. He served a month in jail. However, the police had no evidence against Munawar.
Giving the freedom of speech and expression about religion and religious figures, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) prohibits two kinds of expression – ‘The first — Section 295A — is an anti-blasphemy law: It punishes hurting the sentiments of religious believers through offensive or insulting speech. The blasphemy law was introduced into the IPC 100 years ago in response to rising communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the northern part of India, and ever since — both before and after Independence — it has been weaponised to punish critique of religion(s), mockery and satire, and religious jokes (that may or may not have been made).
While Section 295A is an example of what is called the heckler’s veto, i.e, it leaves free speech at the mercy of those who choose to take offence and hands them the power to shut down speech not only for themselves but for everyone else as well in consideration to the hurt feelings of religious believers as the basis for criminalising speech.