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Postponing Concert Is Attack On Freedom of Expression: TM Krishna

A concert by the Carnatic musician in Delhi was scrapped following vicious trolling by right-wing elements.

Updated
Music
4 min read

The postponement of an Airports Authority of India-sponsored concert by noted Carnatic musician TM Krishna to be held on Saturday, 17 November, in New Delhi after the artist was viciously trolled by right-wing elements on social media, stirred controversy on Thursday, 15 November.

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As the singer got backing from the intelligentsia, the AAP government in Delhi stepped in to organise a concert for the 42-year-old Magsasay award winner on the same day (17 November), which Krishna said he was keen on doing.

Unfazed by online trolls which led to the postponement of his concert organised by AAI in association with cultural NGO SPIC MACAY, Krishna alleged that "troll armies have links with people in power" and described the postponement as an attack on freedom of expression.

“This is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual country. One concert of mine in Washington DC was cancelled by the Central authorities because they came under pressure from the right-wing trolls who celebrated it (cancellation) with great happiness. There’s another one on 22nd (November in Mysuru), and the organisers of that show have been threatened,” Krishna alleged on Thursday.

He said the Delhi government had got in touch with his office and had offered to host a concert in place of the cancelled one and he was open to coming and performing in Delhi on 17 November.

"There are voluntary groups who are welcoming the concert. I am thankful to them. I will be there in Delhi on the 17th. By tonight everything will be clear," he added, calling the postponement an attack on freedom of expression.

“Such trolling cannot be condoned. There is something ethically lacking.”
TM Krishna, Musician

He said he was "shocked" at the incident and urged the people to realise that "the troll armies have links with the people in power". "Otherwise, I do not see how this thing can happen," Krishna said.

BJP spokesperson Vivek Reddy said that Krishna was a musician of “great repute” but he had hurt the sentiments of a large section of people.

The concert titled ‘Dance and Music in the Park’ was scheduled to be held on Saturday and Sunday (17 and 18 November) and was jointly organised by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and SPIC MACAY.

The AAI, which had enthusiastically tweeted about the concert on Monday, backtracked just a day later after the trolling of the artiste, who has been accused of hurting the sentiments of Hindus by inserting songs on Jesus and Allah in Carnatic style.

However, late Wednesday, the AAI informed SPIC MACAY over email that the concert was called off because of "some exigencies of work". On Thursday, it said that the concert was postponed due to "some urgent engagements", SPIC MACAY has called the incident "unfortunate and sad".

"The trolling that has been happening is very sad. Freedom of expression is being stifled and we absolutely condemn that. We at SPIC MACAY will surely like to have T M Krishna, who is a great asset to our classical traditions. We would surely likely to take him to the young, the schools and colleges but unfortunately, with very limited financial resources we cannot do the festival on our own so we have to postpone the entire festival," said Rashmi Malik of SPIC MACAY Foundation.

An official from the office of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told IANS that they have reached out to Krishna and would be "very happy" to organise a concert with him.

Krishna, who has carved a niche for himself by taking Carnatic music, long held as a preserve of the elite, to slums and masses. He has been a critic of the Modi regime, has been a regular target of right-wing trolls on social media and several of his concerts in recent times have seen last moment changes by the organisers.

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Spic Macay Responds

Spic Macay Chairperson Rashmi Malik.
Spic Macay Chairperson Rashmi Malik.
(Photo: The Quint)

In an interview with The Quint, Spic Macay Chairperson Rashmi Malik said ‘exigency of work’ was the reason given by the AAI for cancelling the festival.

Did the Airport Authority hint at the impact of trolling as the reason for the delay in the event?

The only reason they have given me is ‘exigency of work’. That’s the term they’ve used; the mail I have received says due to the exigencies of internal work load they are postponing the festival.

Rashmi Malik also expressed her inability to conduct the festival without the AAI as the sponsor, thanks to the expense. She further mentioned that the Delhi government is keen on hosting T M Krishna in December.

“Having said that I hear today that Arvind Kejriwal has made an official statement that he will host the concert of T M Krishna on the 17 of November in Delhi, I am looking forward to that concert. I would love to listen to him.”
Rashmi Malik, Chairperson, Spic Macay

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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