An event in Kolkata that was planned to discuss atrocities by Pakistan in the Balochistan region and its crimes in Kashmir was cancelled by the proposed venue (a club) citing “unavoidable circumstances” to ensure “cordial atmosphere”.
The event titled “The saga of Balochistan and Kashmir – what the world needs to know” was to have Pakistan born Canadian commentator Tarek Fatah, retired Major General GD Bakshi, Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain, Baloch activist Brahamdagh Bugti, Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit and others as participants and speakers.
According to a report published by India Today, the organisers of the event feel that the club authorities were pressurised by the Kolkata Police to deny permission for the event as it involves speakers who are known for their “anti-Pakistan” rhetoric.
The report says that the club authorities forced the organisers to drop the word “Kashmir” from the event poster as it could lead to unrest in the state. And finally, the club cancelled the event itself.
Organisers say that the club was told by police that the event could hurt the sentiments of a particular community and could result in a law and order situation.
It is not yet clear how discussing crimes of Pakistan could have disturbed law and order or communal harmony in Kolkata, but some believe that the presence of Tarek Fatah, who is known to be bluntly anti-Pakistan and anti-Islamism, could have triggered the cancellation of the event.
Tarek Fatah took to Twitter to protest this cancellation, which he termed as a decision taken under pressure from Muslim fundamentalists:
— Tarek तारिक Fatah (@TarekFatah) January 4, 2017
It is not for the first time when Kolkata has seen a cancellation of event under pressure of Muslim groups.
Earlier in 2012, Kolkata Book Fair had cancelled the release of Taslima Nasreen’s book while in the following year, author Salman Rushdie was asked not to come to the city to attend an event. In December 2013, a TV channel had to cancel airing of a TV serial that was based on Taslima’s book after Muslim groups staged violent protests in the streets of Kolkata.