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October 8, 2015
Ghulam Ali's concerts in Mumbai, Pune cancelled, to leave for Pak Friday
MUMBAI: Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali's concert scheduled to be held in Pune on October 10 has also been cancelled following protests by the Shiv Sena. On Wednesday, the ghazal maestro's Mumbai concert of Friday was cancelled as the Shiv Sena had threatened it would disrupt the programme. He was to perform as a tribute to his friend and late ghazal singer, Jagjit Singh, on his first death anniversary.

Ali was in Delhi on Thursday and will return to Pakistan on Friday. Meanwhile, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee invited him to perform in Kolkata. Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra said on Twitter that the national Capital would also be happy to host Ghulam Ali. The Pakistani ghazal singer said he came to know about the cancellation of the concert after arriving in India and that he will keep coming.

The organisers of the Mumbai concert said the programme will take place but Ghulam Ali will not come. The concert in Mumbai is scheduled on Friday. They announced the decision following a meeting with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in the evening on Wednesday at 'Matoshree', the Thackeray residence in suburban Bandra, despite an assurance by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that protection would be provided to the ghazal singer Ghulam Ali.

The Shiv Sena said that they are not opposing Ghulam Ali but the terrorism spread by his country. The Shiv Sena's film wing Chitrapat Sena had earlier in a letter to the management of the Shanmughananda Hall said that they would have to face the anger of the party and other patriotic people if it went ahead with the programme of the artist from Pakistan ghazal singer Ghulam Ali's concert.

The Shiv Sena, which is a ruling partner in Maharashtra with BJP, said on Thursday that terror and cultural ties cannot go hand in hand. "We cannot sit and enjoy and music in Mumbai while soldiers are being martyred in Kashmir. There has to be some sort of boycott," said Aditya Thackeray, Sena chairperson and son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray.

Fadnavis had said the government was ready to give full protection to the singer. He said it is wrong to involve Ghulam Ali in Indo-Pak politics.

"What the Sena is doing with Ghulam Ali is absolutely wrong. People like him must be kept above and beyond borders," BJP's Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told NDTV.

"I'm not angry but very hurt. I have always got love in India. Such controversies spoil the sur of music," Ghulam Ali told the channel.

Meanwhile, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said cultural exchanges are important elements of bilateral ties which his country "encourages". The Pakistani singer was scheduled to perform on Friday. "We do encourage artistes to visit both sides and perform. As far as Pakistan is concerned, our policy is very constructive, very positive. When Indian artistes go to Pakistan, they do not come across such opposition," Basit told reporters in Delhi.

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