Mumbai: A music launch event in Mumbai where Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali was due to attend on Friday was tonight cancelled following opposition from Shiv Sena, which had earlier forced the cancellation of his concerts here and in Pune.
"The event was going to happen this Friday at 'The Club' in Andheri but now it is not happening. It has been cancelled," TV show host-turned-filmmaker Suhaib Ilyasi said.
Ilyasi said Ali, 75, has cancelled his visit to Mumbai. Ali was to have arrived here tomorrow to attend the music launch of "Ghar Wapsi", a movie directed by Ilyasi, the next day. He has sung a patriotic song in the movie apart from acting in it.
Ilyasi said a member of the organising committee had gone to 'The Club' to deposit the money but claimed he was told that "your booking has been cancelled".
"No reason was given. It is unfortunate that this incident is happening. Even Ghulam Ali sahab is aware of this and he is feeling sad about this," Ilyasi said.
Ilyasi claimed that the local police and some members of Shiv Sena had threatened the organisers, asking them to cancel the event.
When contacted, an official at The Club said there was no such booking. But Ilyasi said he had gone to the venue personally to make the booking.
"They refused to tell us who booked, or what was the event. Our decorator who was working on the event told us that nobody had booked the venue," he said.
"I am hurt, disturbed and feeling very uncomfortable. There are a lot of forces in Mumbai and Maharashtra which do not believe in law and order."
Akshay Badrapurkar, a leader of Chitrapat Sena—Shiv Sena's film wing--said it is the stated policy of his party to oppose Pakistan artistes.
"We had not threatened anyone but we are against Pakistanis coming here and we will protest in our own way. We will do whatever we can, in a democratic way as far as possible, to ensure these artistes don't perform here," he said.
According to Ilyasi, BJP leader Shaina NC had assured the organisers that protection will be given for the event if it happens in Mumbai.
The event organisers had sought adequate security for Ali from Maharashtra government.
"On January 29, we are releasing the music of our film. We want him to have a secure and peaceful stay while he is Mumbai. We have requested the Mumbai Police and the State Government to provide protection for the same, so that no untoward incident happens," Ilyasi said on Tuesday.
"In October last year, his concerts (in Mumbai and Pune) were cancelled due to a threat by Shiv Sena. The reason they gave was the tension prevailing between India and Pakistan."
The director said he is yet to get a confirmation from the authorities on his request for security to Ali.
"I am yet to get a confirmation... But I am hopeful I will get it in a day or two. We will proceed only if we have the conformation, until then everything is on stand by."
Ilyasi said his upcoming film will be about the issue of "intolerance" in the country....