Condemning the recent cancellation of certain classical music programmes and ‘intimidation’ of artists in South India, several eminent citizens, including a good number of artists, theatre persons, film directors, judges, academics among others have issued a statement decrying the complete failure of all authorities and institutions to protect freedom of expression.
Activists include Ashok Vajpeyi, Aruna Roy, Justice A P Shah, Justice K Chandru, Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anand Patwardhan, Rajmohan Gandhi, Devaki Jain, Romila Thapar, Mallika Sarabhai and Malavika Sarukkai have registered their strong protest and condemned this continual harassment, intimidation and the use of other undemocratic methods to silence voices.
In the climate of social policing and restrictions on writers, thinkers and artists, they deplored that the recent attacks on Carnatic musicians of repute, has again raised the sceptre of fear. This reflects the failure of the rule of law and constitutional guarantees. It is alarming that neither independent institutions such as the courts nor the governments whose duty it is to protect democratic space and freedom of expression, have stepped in to take decisive steps to end this menace, they added.
They said many musicians have received threats by right wing Hindu organisations, for bringing people and religions together on a musical platform. Some of them have been bullied into making apologies and cancelling concerts. O. S. Arun was invited by T. Samuel Joseph a long time student and teacher of Carnatic music to render Carnatic compositions on Christ.
He was attacked online and pressure was put on him to cancel. He cancelled citing personal reasons. Within days, WhatsApp and social media clippings of Nithyasree Mahadevan rendering a Christian song began circulating with comments to establish disapproval. The SSVT Temple in Washington DC which had invited
T.M.Krishna to sing, cancelled the invitation at the behest of self-appointed Hindu gatekeepers.T. M. Krishna in a statement said: “Considering the vile comments and threats issued by many on social media regarding Carnatic compositions on Jesus, I announce here that I will be releasing one Carnatic song every month on Jesus or Allah”.