After getting Vir Das show halted in Bengaluru, right-wing outfit demands his arrest

The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, which was protesting against the Bengaluru show, now wants Das’ upcoming Hyderabad event cancelled as well.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Nov 10, 2022 | 8:59 PM Updated Nov 11, 2022 | 8:48 AM

Stand-up comedian Vir Das

The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), the right-wing group because of which a show by stand-up comedian Vir Das — scheduled to be held on the afternoon of Thursday, 10 November — was cancelled or postponed (depending on whom you ask) is now asking for his arrest.

Mohan Gowda, the spokesperson of the Karnataka unit of the Goa-headquartered HJS, told South First that Das had hurt Hindu sentiments, for which he should face legal proceedings.

Gowda went on to add that Das should be arrested.

He also told South First that the HJS had asked its associated organisations to protest against Das’ upcoming 20 November show in Hyderabad, so that it did not take place.

Similar protests were seen in August in the run-up to a show by comedian Munawwar Faruqui. However, that show did take place, with Faruqui steering clear of controversial topics in his set.

Show cancelled or postponed?

Das announced on Instagram on Thursday, that the organisers were “pushing” his show in Bengaluru, but said the “new details and dates” would come later.

He wrote: “Hey Folks. Due to unavoidable circumstances we are pushing the Bengaluru show. New details and dates soon. Sorry for the inconvenience. [sic]”


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A post shared by Vir Das (@virdas)

However, the organisers of the event — Mumbai-based Yosn Innovations — in a letter to the Bengaluru venue of the event, Chowdiah Memorial Hall, that the show that was to be held there on Thursday was “cancelled”.

South First attempted to ascertain the facts straight from Yosn Innovations over the phone, but the single call that connected was cut short. Subsequent calls and messages went unanswered.

So, which was it? Was the show postponed or cancelled?

Whatever it was, it fell in line — one way or the other — with the demands of the HJS, which on 7 November lodged a police complaint in Bengaluru urging the cops to get the show cancelled.

The right-wing outfit on Thursday took its opposition to the show to outside the Bengaluru venue, where it protested into the early afternoon, dispersing only after confirmation came that the show would not happen at 5.30 pm.

Right-wing complaint, police reaction

The HJS, in its complaint against Das to the police in Bengaluru, claimed that he had made “derogatory statements against women, our prime minister and India” at the John F Kennedy Center in Washington DC in the US and “denigrated the nation”.

The complaint noted: “He had said that ‘In India, we worship women in the day and rape them at night’ during the performance.”

It added that the police in Mumbai and Delhi had registered cases in this regard.

The complaint was referring to Das’ performance titled I Come From Two Indias. Here is the full show:

However, what is interesting is that the HJS said in the complaint that it was “not right to allow such a controversial person” to perform “in a communally sensitive area like Bangalore [sic]”.

The complaint also said: “When Karnataka is already facing many law-and-order problems due to communal incidents, such events could… should not be allowed. We demand that this program should be cancelled immediately.”

Interestingly, Karnataka is currently ruled by the BJP, and the HJS claiming that its capital city had a law-and-order problem could be a self-goal.

Station House Officer (SHO) Srinivas of the Vyalikaval Police Station — where the HJS complaint was filed — told South First that the cops had not acted upon the complaint to get the show cancelled.

He, however, added that they were investigating the charges against Das.

Other shows cancelled in Bengaluru

Police action, however, was definitely responsible for the cancellation of the Bengaluru shows by Faruqui in August and Atul Khatri in September.

However, in both cases, the police noted that the organisers of the shows had either submitted an incomplete application (Khatri) or had taken no permission at all (Faruqui).

The police told reporters that Khatri’s show also did not get permission because the application was submitted too late, and the cops usually take three days to respond to such applications.

Interestingly, Faruqui’s show was objected to by several Hindu right-wing outfits, much like they were in Das’ case.

Different outcome expected in Hyderabad?

The Bengaluru show of Vir Das’ Wanted Tour may now stand postponed or entirely cancelled, but the shadow of protests looms over his Hyderabad event.

What may work in favour of Das is the fact that, unlike Karnataka, Telangana is ruled by the TRS, which has been known to go the extra mile to let such shows take place.

For example, even as BJP activists — spearheaded by Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh — protested against Faruqui’s Hyderabad show in August, the government sought to keep things from getting out of hand by arresting several members of the saffron party.

In fact, Raja Singh himself was arrested days after Faruqui’s show, but it was over the comments he made in a video that hurt religious sentiments.

With the divisive politician now out on bail, albeit conditional, there is a good chance that he could join the protests against Das.