NEW DELHI -- A day after Shiv Sena managed to cancel renowned ghazal singer Ghulam Ali's performance in a concert in Mumbai, party member and MP Sanjay Raut said that the protest was not against Ali, but "against Pakistan and it's violence".
"Pakistan needs to end terrorism in our nation," he told ANI. In fact, he claimed that cancelling Ali's musical performance was a "tribute" to all martyred soldiers. He said that Ali would be able to hold a concert in India only after Pakistan "behaves itself and improves its relationship with India." Shiv Sena was able to cancel the program despite state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis' assurances that the concert would take place without incident.
The ustad's Pune show, scheduled for Saturday, has now also been cancelled.
India-Pakistan relations have taken a severe beating in the past few months, with repeated ceasefire violations and allegations from both sides. The matter has even captured the international community's attention, with representatives from both countries fighting it out at the United Nations.
Ghulam Ali ka concert ho jayega,lekin tab jab Pak baaz ayega,Pak Hindustan ke saath rishte sudhaarega: Sanjay Raut pic.twitter.com/C7qnvWLI8L— ANI (@ANI_news) October 7, 2015
Meanwhile, the Delhi government immediately responded to the incident by extending an invitation to Ali to perform in the capital. Delhi culture minister Kapil Sharma and AAP MLA has asked Ali to do the concert in the city instead.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee too has given a similar invitation to the Pakistani artist. " Music has no boundaries, music is rhythm of the heart," she said. "Ghulam Ali ji's concert can be held in Kolkata, will make arrangements."
The renowned Pakistani singer's response to the entire incident has been gracious, even as he expressed his hurt on national television.
"I'm not angry but very hurt. I have always got love in India," he told NDTV. "The concert was a tribute for Jagjit Singh. He was like a brother to me... Such controversies spoil the sur of music."
He also gave a gentle message to right-wing protests against his performance, saying that such musical tributes need a peaceful atmosphere.
"Program ke liye achha maahol chahiye na... Allah ki marzi hogi (We need a good atmosphere for the program... This must be god's will)," the artist told India Today. "Yeh toh prem ka kaam hai... peace hona chahiye maahol... usmein achha lagta hai program (This concert was about love... We need to do it in a peaceful atmosphere)."
Even as the artist himself steered clear of further controversy, the cancellation of the program has elicited angry reactions from the rest of the political and public community.
Well-known author Taslima Nasreen said that India was becoming a "Hindu Saudi".
OMG! Pak Singer Ghulam Ali's Concert in Mumbai Cancelled After Sena Threat? India is becoming Hindu Saudi?— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) October 7, 2015
She took on trolls who called Ghulam Ali a "jehadi".
Ghulam Ali is not a jehadi, he is a singer. Please try to differentiate between Jehadis and singers. https://t.co/K1rRz0piEc— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) October 7, 2015
Meanwhile Congress national spokesperson Sanjay Jha apologised to the singer for "minority politics" and party secretary Digvijay Singh condemned the Maharashtra government's decision.
Murder, mayhem and minority politics dominates our political landscape. Music must wait. Sorry Mumbai. Sorry Ustad #GhulamAli .— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) October 7, 2015
Condemn Maharashtra Govt decision not to allow Ghulam Ali to sing in Mumbai in a function in memory of Jagjit Singh our great Ghazal singer— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) October 8, 2015
Pakistani columnist Mehr Tarar also lashed out against the incident, saying "Ghulam Ali is arguably the best ghazal singer in the subcontinent. His music is for all, beyond borders, beyond differences. Why ban him?"
The music maestro's performance was scheduled to take place in at Shanmughananda Hall in Mumbai today. However, Shiv Sena had threatened the event organisers that they would have to face the "anger of Shiv Sena and the patriotic people" if they went ahead with the programme.
"Through this letter, we want to convey to you that if you invite Pakistan artist to the show you will have to face the Shiv Sena's wrath... Which is why we ask you to prohibit the Pakistan artist from coming to the programme, or else you will have to face the anger of Shiv Sena's and the patriotic people of the country," the party's film wing 'Chitrapat Sena' head Mangesh Satamkar said in his letter to the organisers.
The event organisers then met with Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray yesterday, following which it was cancelled.
"Our meeting was good with Uddhav. The program will take place but Ghulam Ali is not coming for the program," organiser Randhir Ranjan Roy told media.