Politics are no laughing matter for India’s comedians

World

Politics are no laughing matter for India’s comedians

Colonial-era criminal statutes give authorities wide powers to silence critical voices

Amy Kazmin

A young stand-up comic with an infectious grin, Munawar Faruqui has made a name for himself on India’s comedy circuit in recent years by delivering sharp-edged satire with a boyish, unassuming stage presence.

Yet along with appreciative fans, the millennial Muslim comedian also caught the attention of Hindu zealots, who resent his casual references to Hindu deities, allusions to deadly anti-Muslim riots and barbs about leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

In prime minister Narendra Modi’s “New India”, such irreverence can carry a heavy price. On New Year’s Day in the prosperous city of Indore, Faruqui was beginning a show when Hindu vigilantes, led by the son of a BJP state legislator, disrupted the performance and hustled him off to a police station...

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