Ajmer Lit Fest called off after BJP threats

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Ajmer
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2016 15:03 IST

Organisers of a literary festival here cancelled the event on Monday after the BJP and saffron organisations threatened violent protests against the presence of a Pakistani poet.

The programme — called Shayari Sarhad Ke Paar — was to commemorate the late Urdu poet Nida Fazli and was scheduled to feature Pakistani poet Professor Abbas Tabish. “No artist or poet from Pakistan will be allowed to perform in the city unless that country does not stop cross border terrorism,” said district BJP president Arvind Yadav.

“If they do not follow our ‘advice’ we will oppose their function vehemently,” he added, invoking the sedition controversy in Delhi’s JNU to claim Pakistanis couldn’t be allowed to perform in India.

This is the latest in a series of similar boycotts of Pakistani artists in the past two years.

The city general secretary of the VHP, Shashi Prakash Indoria, said letting a Pakistani artist perform was an insult to the martyrs who defended India. “If they tried to violate our dictate we will deal with them in our own way,” Indoria said.

The organisers said they wanted to steer clear of controversy and hence called the event off after being told to do so by BJP leaders. “BJP district president told me a function in which a Pakistani poet is participating would prove counterproductive for city’s social and political health,” said Ras Bihari Gaur, coordinator of the Ajmer literary organisation.

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