‘Mob Violence Must Stop’: Actor Responds to Cancelled Play on J&K
“A mob cannot represent the Constitution of India.”
After protests by a fringe group led to the cancellation of a play about two Kashmiri orphans – titled Eidgah Ke Jinnat (The Djinns of Eidgah) – actor Ashwath Bhatt strongly condemned mob violence and silencing.
In a video shared with The Quint, Bhatt said:
Earlier on Tuesday, the play Eidgah Ke Jinnat was called off after the fringe group dubbed it ‘anti-Army’ and ‘anti-national’. The detractors also raised slogans against Abhishek Majumdar who has written and directed the play.
The production opened at the Navras Festival at the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur on 18 February. After a successful first performance, the play was set for a second show the following day before it was called off amid protests.
What Prompted the Objections to the Play?
The reaction of the group was seemingly based on a ‘misleading’ report in Dainik Bhaskar, which stated that the play refers to the Army as “draconian”. It further said it contained “objectionable and offensive” references to Lord Hanuman.
However, according to the play’s makers and the synopsis of the play, it is about two orphaned siblings, Ashrafi and Bilal, who are caught in a “landscape lost to conflict”. It is, the synopsis reads, “a portrait of a generation of radicalised kids.”
Danish Husain, a viewer who had seen the first performance of the play, tweeted saying that the play was “a sensitive portrayal of two sets of people caught unwillingly in a vicious cycle of hate & violence (sic).”
The Jawahar Kala Kendra, however, conceded to the demands of the fringe group and issued a notice cancelling the performance of the play.
Police Did Not Help: Actor Ashwath Bhatt
In his video, Bhatt alleged that there were ‘goons’ standing outside his room all day, and they were looking for him till late in the evening, but the police did not help at all.
Supporters of the Play Criticise Rajasthan Govt
After the play was withdrawn, several participants and supporters criticised the authorities and the Rajasthan government, claiming that the play is instrumental in “establishing a dialogue with people of Kashmir.”
India Foundation of Arts also issued a statement of solidarity, saying that they “condemn the silencing of the voices of artists which attempt to create dialogues and debates on our lives and realities.”
Some supporters along with the play’s makers filed a Change.org petition titled, “Govt. of Rajasthan must ensure artists' voices are not silenced.”
“Neither Abhishek, nor any of the signatories to this statement, support or condone acts of terrorism and violence. We are united in feeling the grief of the families who lost their dear ones in the recent attack in Pulwama, as indeed with all those innocent victims of the violence that has racked Kashmir for decades.”Makers of ‘Eidgah Ke Jinnat’ (The Djinns of Eidgah) on Change.org.
The statement further reads, “We call upon the government of Rajasthan to ensure the safety and security of all those involved in the play, as well as the staff and premises of Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur. We hope that the local police will apprehend the miscreants who reportedly indulged in aggressive sloganeering at Jawahar Kala Kendra and threatened Abhishek and others.”