Hindu Hardliners Block Pakistani singer’s Concert In Mumbai

A local Hindu nationalist party has protested the presence of a Pakistani singer and forced organizers to cancel his concert in Mumbai, India’s entertainment capital.

Akshay Bardapurkar, a Shiv Sena leader, said inviting Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali to perform was an insult to all Indians as he belongs to a country which is firing bullets and killing Indian soldiers on their border.

Photo: Rajanish Kakade/AP
Motorcyclists drive past the Shanmukhananda auditorium where Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali concert was supposed to be held, in Mumbai, India.

Ali was to perform in Mumbai on Friday, but the organizers canceled the show as Shiv Sena has a history of disrupting concerts by Pakistani artists.

India and Pakistan have recently accused each other of unprovoked firing along their disputed border in Kashmir, killing some soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Ali said he was disappointed by the organizers’ decision, but promised to perform in New Delhi in December at the invitation of Arvind Kejriwal, the Indian capital’s top elected leader.

“The atmosphere is not conducive for me to perform. … I am not angry, I am hurt,” Ali told reporters on Thursday.

However, he has been invited by the top elected officials in two Indian states to hold concerts in West Bengal and New Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal, the top elected official in New Delhi, tweeted Friday: “‘I am a big fan of yours. Thanks for agreeing to do a program in Delhi in December.”

Mumbai is the capital of western Maharashtra state, which is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in coalition with Shiv Sena.

The concert was canceled despite assurances by the state’s top elected official, Devendra Fadnavis, that Ali was welcome to perform in Mumbai and that his government would give him “full protection.”

Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said he regretted the decision. “Our position is very clear, we encourage people-to-people contacts, we encourage our artists to visit both sides and perform,” he said.