M A I N   N E W S

Pak artistes shown the door
Told their play is anti-US
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 29
A Pakistani theatre group, which includes well-known Pakistani dancer and activist Sheema Kermani, was forced to make a pre- mature exit when it was shown the door today by it hosts for staging a reportedly “ anti- US” play.

Invited by the ‘Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia the (WIPSA), the Pakistanis were shocked when Manisha Banerjee-Gill on behalf of the WIPSA asked the group to leave India by tomorrow otherwise their visas would be cancelled and the police would be informed.

While the Pakistanis were asked to leave, other cultural troupes left early today for Varanasi, their next destination. The other participating countries including Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, will stage plays at Banaras Hindu University and then move to Bhubneshwar, the final destination.

All efforts to contact Ms Gill from the WIPSA failed as she refused to take calls. President of the WIPSA Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande and vince president Syeda Saidain expressed shock at the treatment of the Pakistanis. Distancing themselves from the incident they said this was done without their knowledge.

Tehrik-e-Niswan, a Karachi-based cultural group, was invited to perform a South Asia Theatre Festival organised by the WIPSA. As part of this festival, the first performance of the play, ‘Zikr-e-Nashunida’ was held at I.T. College on November 27.

Developed out of a workshop conducted by Indian theatre director Prasanna Ramaswamy, the play is a joint Indo-Pak venture.

Addressing a joint press conference, Kermani and Ramaswamy said immediately after the performance, the group was summoned by office-bearers of the WIPSA in Lucknow, including Trustee Meera Khanna and Manisha B. Gill, and were verbally ‘charge sheeted’ for presenting a small part of the play a day earlier at the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) Convention.

The Pakistani troupe was told that the play clearly had anti-U.S. sentiments that went against the policies of their donors, the Ford Foundation.


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