Pakistani artistes on Thursday (January 15) condemned the harassment of comedian Shakeel Siddiqi (pictured above) during the recording of a comedy show in Mumbai.
“Performing art people are very sensitive and such kind of treatment in India raises many questions and is very unfortunate,” Pakistan’s leading comedian Umer Sharif told IANS.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists on Wednesday (January 14) entered a studio where Siddiqi was shooting for the comedy show “Comedy Circus” and told him to leave for Pakistan.
MNS, led by Raj Thackeray, became notorious last year for violence against people who had come from other parts of India to Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.
“I believe he would have gone to India after government’s permission and making his trip public through media,” Sharif said. He said that this incident will certainly force several Pakistani artistes to stay away from the Indian showbiz industry.
Siddiqi went to Mumbai last week to perform in the show.
According to sources in the Pakistani film industry, at present there are at least six Pakistani artistes in India who are working on different projects.
“I know that at least six of the Pakistani people from our industry are in India but I don’t want to name them… none of them have gone there with proper documents like work permit etc and are on visit visas,” said a senior producer in the Pakistani film industry, requesting anonymity.
He said that it was responsibility of the host to provide security to the Pakistanis working there. He also criticised the role of Indian High Commission in Islamabad, which he said was “providing them visit visas instead of work visa”.
Human rights activist Sohaila Rashid said that the Indian government is responsible for the incident. “This is strange that a Pakistani artiste was beaten up in Mumbai. This shows how responsible is the Indian government,” said Rashid, adding it can add to the current tension between the two countries.
Sources in the Foreign Office said that they have asked the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi to immediately contact Siddiqi and repatriate him to Pakistan.
The sources said that the government plans to issue an advisory to Pakistanis who are present in India or planning to travel there on security issues.
“It seems a horrible news and affects the relationship between the film industries of both the countries,” said senior film producer Sangeeta. She said that Shakeel was well-known in India and was a source of bringing joy to millions of faces all across the sub-continent.
She said: “I am afraid that this can create further problems.”
Indo-Asian News Service