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Karnataka Government’s Strange Stand

Another event in solidarity with Palestine scheduled to be held here on Wednesday was called off.


– Mohammed Atherulla Shariff

Bengaluru, Dec. 1: ‘Never give up’ is the mood of the people in supporting the Palestine cause. For reasons not satisfying rather more surprising, the government is not allowing any public programme in this regard.

Another event in solidarity with Palestine scheduled to be held here on Wednesday was called off. Police cited security risks and cancelled permission.

As We Bear Witness
Singer M.D. Pallavi, actor-playwright Swetanshu Bora, and theatre artiste Ramneek Singh were to feature in an event titled “As We Bear Witness”– An evening of poems, a short play, and other readings on Palestine.

“It came as a complete surprise. We were just going to recite poems and read stories. I’m trying to wrap my head around why the show was cancelled. The police haven’t provided clear reasons. In my 20 years in theatre, I have never faced such a situation,” Pallavi said.

The police reached out to the Ranga Shankara management. “They asked the manager for details. They were provided with all details.

“Surendranat, who had curated the event, provided the event flow as well as the script. After this, Ranga Shankara received a call from the police station, saying they have no permission for the event. The police did not provide any written notice,” says B Suresha, actor, director and trustee of Ranga Shankara.

Theatre groups here are not required to get prior permission from the police to stage plays. “It is not a practice followed in Bengaluru, unlike in Mumbai. For this event, a poster had been circulating on social media for some time and that is how they must have heard about it,” he says. There were no slogans, no protests, just some reading. What was the problem, he wonders.

Cops failed citizens 
Arundhati Raja, founder-trustee of Jagriti Theatre, says the police failed to stand by the citizens of the city. “If a theatre space can’t have protection in times like these, what are the police doing? They ask us to cancel the shows because they don’t have enough personnel to provide protection when various outfits threaten us,” she says.

“Citizens shouldn’t suffer because of the cowardice of the state and union government and police, says Kannada port and stage Director S Raghunandan.

The theatre community is planning to attend a demonstration in solidarity with Palestine at Freedom Park on Saturday. “This nation has always stood by Palestine, so what is changing now?”

“It is about our collective conscience when it comes to Palestine. We have various performances planned for the demonstration,” he says.

Police: ‘It’s an international matter.’ The event was called off due to “potential threat to peace and order in the city,” says Rahul Kumar Shahpurwad, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Division).

“We received intelligence from a source that some of the content could cause unrest. We just wanted to prevent that. It is an international matter that not many sitting in India will have full information about. We didn’t want to take a risk,” he says.

Who will tire is to be seen tomorrow at Freedom Park.


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