What happened today at the Gateway of India is a travesty & mockery Of Fair play & justice in our City. Today The Commissioner of Police for Mumbai City did not just Stop Independence Rock He basically told all of us that the police will control what Kind of Music can OR Can’t be heard at the Gateway of India; a monument that belongs to all Mumbaikar’s . In one stroke his Diktat didn’t just cancel a Festival that was about to celebrate its 20th Year at the Gateway … but it stabbed at the heart of Democracy in our Country. As certainly as that madman stabbed an innocent girl at the Gateway a few weeks ago this unfair Diktat has stabbed all Rock musicians, Fans & lovers who had come from Far & wide to perform & witness History in the making ---- The 20th Year Of Independence Rock!
From over the last 15 Days I have personally been making the rounds of every Government office in the City . We applied and got all the following Permisions & Noc’s :
1.) Maharashtra Government for the use of the Gateway .
2.) Cultural Secretary for the use of the Gateway .
3.) Archaeological Survey of India – NOC for the use of the Gateway.
4.) BMC - NOC after paying their Venue Charges & Deposits.
5.) BMC SHOW departments NOC
6.) Fire Brigade NOC
7.) PWD electrical & Stage Compliance report .
8.) Collector Mumbai for Entertainment Tax Clearance after Pre – Payment of Entertainment Tax of Rs. 40,000
9.) Colaba Police Station NOC
10.) RTO – NOC
11.) RTO – Bandobast charges of 11,474 were paid for 30 - 40 Traffic Cops
12.) DCP ZONE 1 & Zone 2 Clearance
13.) Rangbhoomi Permission for Lyrics
14.) Censor Board Clearance.
15.) Loud-speaker License issued by the Colaba Police Station
Along the way I got the runaround of a lifetime wherein I had to beg, plead, cajole grovel, namedrop & Bribe at virtually every turn. However I kept telling myself it will be worthwhile come the 3rd & the 4th of Sept when the concert takes place. My friend & fellow musician Hon Milind Deora MP helped and made a hundred calls every time we got stuck … Vinod Shekhar Municipal Corporator for A WARD too helped us immensely… However the last 2 permissions the Ticket Selling License & The Performance License which are a mere formality once you have the above 15 in place; were denied to us at the 11th hour after being told all along the way that they were “just awaiting Saab’s Signature ” After spending 6 hours at the Comissioner’s office at 4:30 p.m. I was informed that the Joint CP Mr. Subhash Awate had refused to give us the permission, When I met him he casually told me that he will meet me later… When I informed him that the show began in 1 Hours time he just got into his car & drove off.
I begged and pleaded with Mr. A.N. Roy’s PA Mr. Kulkarni if I could meet with him & plead our case … I was informed that Sahib did not wish to see anybody. In desperation I dialed Milind’s No and apprised him of the situation he immediately spoke to the Commissioner, who assured him that he will take a favorable view of the matter and that he would see me. Milind Called me back immediately and said that He was hopeful that the Commissioner would relent .
When I went into the Cabin there was Mr. AN ROY ( Commissioner Police ) , Mr. Patnaik ( Joint Commissioner ) & Mr. Naval Bajaj (DCP Zone 1). The commissioner started by telling me that - How Could I have wanted to stage a ROCK CONCERT at the Gateway? He kept stressing repeatedly that the Gateway was an inappropriate venue for this Kind of Music and told me that the Sound will Damage the monument. I assured him that this was the same Contractor – Roger Drego and the Same Sound system that had been used 4 times in the past 6 months for 4 different shows at the Gateway and authorized by his office. :
1. The Mumbai Festival featuring Al Jarreau & other Jazz – Rock artists .
2. Shakti featuring Zakir Hussain & John Mac Laughlin another Jazz Rock / Fusion Act
3. The Mumbai Mirror Launch function
4. Bal Thackeray’s Book Launch .
To this he kept insisting that these were all Government Shows & not commercial events. When I told him that the Al Jarreau Gig was an MTV & VH1 Show which Charged an average of Rs 2000 & the Shakti show was organized by my friend Shashi Vyas who owns a private event company and had an average ticket price of Rs. 1500; & also the Launch of a private newspaper is a Commercial event …. & that Balasaheb Thackeray is a private Citizen with no official Government Post . He said that those shows were all right BUT ours was not Suitable for the Gateway .
In spite of me repeatedly reminding him that Our Show had all INDIAN BANDS, & no Foreign Acts… Our 20th year Anniversary… and a Ticket Price one 1/10 th of the other events he had allowed … he still told me that he would not permit it . In desperation I told him that not only did I stand to loose over Rs. 10 Lakhs that I had spent on the event but also 3000 kids who showed up from all across the Country would be disappointed , he told me that this was not his concern. He rejected our application on the grounds of Sound Pollution & Law & Order problem.
This too me reeks of a simple prejudice that Rock listened to by Middle Class Non-Affluent College Kids is Sound Pollution & Jazz Rock Or Fusion patronized by the Page 3 Crowd was Sweet & Appropriate Music …. Once again a Government Official who has been invested with these Absolute powers by the Government has let his personal taste in music / perception of Rock Music influence his decision.
Dejected & shattered by this unfair decision I made my way to the Gateway and informed the Huge Crowd that …Once Again Rock Music Had been made a Scapegoat Of and asked them to disperse quietly & peacefully .
What happened next Amazed me … Rock Fans who have been stereotyped as violent & abusive & other unflattering adjectives by the Police quietly left the venue . Had this been a Ganesh Utsav, Durga Pooja , Or Navratri Celebration there would have surely been a riot there !
The question’s we need to ask ourselves now are:
1.) Are we going to let the Police decide what type of Music can be played at a National Monument?
2.) Are we going to have one set of Rules for Jazz, Indian Classical, & Fusion and a different set of rules for Rock?
3.) Are we still suffering from a Post Colonial Hangover that Foreign / White Bands can perform at National Monuments & Indian Bands don’t have the same Rights ?
4.) Are we going to have Separate rules for Big Newspapers & TV Organizations , & Politicians and different ones for ordinary citizens like me ?
5.) Are we going to let Government officials whose Salaries get paid by taxes that we pay cause irreparable Loss of money Time & effort to citizens like me?
6.) Are we going to let shows get cancelled after 14 different Government Departments have okayed it, just because someone did not like the idea of the Gateway of India to be used for a Rock Concert ?
What has happened today thus is not just a Concert that has been cancelled. It is an infringement of our Constitutionally Guaranteed Fundamental Right to listen & enjoy different types of music without interference by Police Officials.
I would thus like to request the Court’s of our Country to intervene and correct this Gross Miscarriage of Justice and ensure that Independence Rock 20 Happens at the Gateway Of India towards the end of September!
Please forward this to your Friends & ask them to forward it to their Friends … Somewhere along the Line some one in a powerful place might wakeup to the fact that an injustice was done here and it should be corrected!
On a dfifferent note all those who bought tickets .. they will be valid for the concert which will take place sometime this month.
If you want a refund you can get this too by emailing SAHIL - THE DEMON STEALER
Hey, Hey, My, My Rock & Roll Can Never Die !!! – Neil Young
Farhad K. Wadia