A major storm brewed on Thursday following the postponement of a concert by noted Carnatic musician T M Krishna sponsored by the Airports Authority of India in New Delhi on Saturday following vicious trolling of the artist by rightwing elements on social media.
As the singer got backing from the intelligentsia, the AAP government in Delhi stepped in to organise a concert for the 42-year-old Magsasay award winner on the same day (November 17), which Krishna said he was keen on doing.
Unfazed by online trolls which led to the postponement of his concert organised by AAI in association with cultural NGO SPIC MACAY, Krishna alleged that "troll armies have links with people in power" and described the postponement as an attack on freedom of expression.
"This is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual country. One concert of mine in Washington DC was cancelled by the Central authorities because they came under pressure from the rightwing trolls who celebrated it (cancellation) with great happiness. There's another one on 22nd (November in Mysuru), the organisers of that show have been threatened," Krishna alleged on Thursday.
He said the Delhi government had got in touch with his office and had offered to host a concert in place of the cancelled one and he was open to coming and performing in Delhi on November 17.
"There are multitudes of voluntary groups who are welcoming the concert. I am thankful to them. I will be there in Delhi on the 17th. By tonight everything will be clear," he added, calling the postponement an attack on freedom of expression. "Such trolling cannot be condoned. There is something ethically lacking."
He said he was "shocked" at the incident and urged the people to realise that "the troll armies have links with the people in power". "Otherwise, I do not see how this thing can happen," Krishna said.
BJP spokesperson Vivek Reddy said that Krishna was a musician of "great repute" but he had hurt the sentiments of a large section of people.
The AAI, which had enthusiastically tweeted about the concert on Monday, backtracked just a day later after the trolling of the artiste, who has been accused of hurting the sentiments of Hindus by inserting songs on Jesus and Allah in Carnatic style.
However, late Wednesday, the AAI informed SPIC MACAY over email that the concert was called off because of "some exigencies of work". On Thursday, it said that the concert was postponed due to "some urgent engagements", SPIC MACAY has called the incident "unfortunate and sad".
"The trolling that has been happening is very sad. The freedom of expression is being stifled and we absolutely condemn that. We at SPIC MACAY will surely like to have T.M. Krishna, who is a great asset to our classical traditions, we will surely likely to take him to the young, the schools and colleges but unfortunately, with very limited financial resources we cannot do the festival on our own so we have to postpone the entire festival," said Rashmi Malik of SPIC MACAY Foundation.
An official from the office of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told IANS that they have reached out to Krishna and would be "very happy" to organise a concert with him.
Krishna, who has carved a niche for himself by taking Carnatic music, long held as a preserve of the elite, to slums and masses. He has been a critic of the Modi regime, has been a regular target of rightwing trolls on social media and several of his concerts in recent times have seen last moment changes by the organisers.