G Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Home Affairs, has issued a letter responding to a letter written by Shiv Sena member of Parliament Rahul Shewale regarding a Pakistan original Bollywood event manager. In the letter, G Kishan Reddy says that in reference to Shewale’s letter to the Prime Minister dated 17th February 2020, he got the issue examined and the Ministry of External Affairs has apprised that Rehan Siddiqui, Rakesh Kaushal and Darshan Mehta have been blacklisted on the recommendations of the Consulate General of India, Houston.
The letter further says that the Embassy of India in Washington DC and the Consulate General of India in Houston have also been requested to engage with prominent influencers, cultural bodies and bonafide ‘Bollywood affiliated’ local entities to ensure that appropriate message is conveyed to Indian actors and artists to that they can disassociate themselves from such anti-national elements.
Who is Rehan Siddiqui, now blacklisted by India?
The issue surfaced earlier this year when the link between Rehan Siddiqui organising Bollywood events and funding of anti-India propaganda especially related Kashmir had surfaced.
In February, it was reported that Rehan Siddique was on the radar of Indian authorities after it was revealed that Siddique organises Bollywood events and the money raised from it is used to fund anti-India activities abroad, especially with a focus on Kashmir.
Rehan Siddique, who is a Pakistani but is based on Houston also owns a radio channel where he regularly espouses terrorist activity in Kashmir and India and spreads propaganda. Rehan Siddiqui had extensive experience in the music and radio industry and said to have organised more than 400 successful concerts with many of the biggest stars from South Asia and Bollywood.
“He owns a radio channel and brings Indian artistes to Houston for Bollywood concerts. He uses his radio channels as a platform to run anti-India propaganda,” a prominent member of the Indian community in Houston had said at the time.
The Indian diaspora in the United States had staunchly opposed Siddiqui’s organised events, urging the government to dissuade the Bollywood celebrities from participating in the events organised by an ‘ISI agent’. They have demanded that Bollywood celebrities should not be allowed to participate in shows. They have also asserted that Siddiqui and other Pakistani nationals are working to organise anti-CAA protests in Houston and pro-Khalistan protests by the local Sikh community. Siddiqui’s radio channel is also accused of running anti-India propaganda in the wake of Pulwama attack and the subsequent Balakot strikes.
Backlash and actors pulling out of events organised by the Pakistani event manager
In 2019, FWICE had asked singer-actor Diljit Dosanjh to not perform in a show promoted by a Pakistani national Rehan Siddiqui. Dosanjh had posted a message on Twitter informing that he will postpone his US tour while denying any link between the show and any Pakistani national. He ended the message with “I love my country and will always stand for the greater interest of the nation”.
In February 2020, Bollywood actor Salman Khan had called off his event in Houston amidst allegations of terror funding levelled against the Pakistani origin event organiser- Rehan Siddiqui.