Friday, February 23, 2018

Two Indian artists break visa rules, perform in Dhaka

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-02-13 19:42:24 BdST

bdnews24

Two Indian artists have broken rules by performing at a Shilpakala Academy function after coming to Dhaka on tourist visas.

The incident has enraged Bangladeshi artists, who allege the Indian artists have dodged taxes by doing the programme in this manner.  

West Bengal Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Bakshi’s wife Sahana Bakshi and his sister-in-law Soumi Bhattacharya performed at the function on Tuesday.

Officials said the Indian artists came to Bangladesh on tourist visa.

“They had not declared they would perform in Bangladesh. If they do so, it will be illegal under Bangladesh’s existing law,” an official told bdnews24.com on condition of anonymity.

Following the rules, the organisers of any programmes in Bangladesh have to get permission of the ministries of foreign, cultural affairs, home, and information along with clearances of the National Board of Revenue or NBR and the National Security Intelligence or NSI if they want to bring in a foreign artist.

Foreign artists can perform in any programmes in Bangladesh only on these clearances.

Bangladeshi artists also have to follow similar rules of foreign countries if they want to perform abroad. 

Officials said Bangladeshi singers Momotaz Begom and Faruq Mahfuz Anam James had been invited by Indian organisers but could not perform there for a long time for not getting the permissions.

When bdnews24.com called up Shilpakala Academy music and dance department Director Sohrab Uddin for comments on the performance of the two Indian artists, he snapped before hanging up, “Don’t we follow the rules? Are you spying on us?”

Academy Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky did not take calls from bdnews24.com for comments.

Senior Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Vanessa Rodriguez told bdnews24.com they did not know what information the two Indian artists had given to the authorities.

“We were told that they had been invited by the government. The Shilpakala Academy took clearance from the cultural affairs ministry and submitted it to the NBR,” she said.

She did not say what the ministry should do if any Indian artist or Bangladeshi organisers concealed information.

Before the programme started, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor said he would look into the issue.

The minister, however, himself inaugurated the programme titled ‘Surer Swajan’ organised as part of a three-day festival to welcome ‘Basanta’, the spring season on Bangla calendar.

Tapan Mahmud, the president of Bangladesh Music Organisations’ Coordination Council, told bdnews24.com that foreign artists are often brought to perform in Bangladesh without permission.

“Dodging taxes in this way is illegal. There should have been surveillance to stop the foreign artists from performing in our country in this way,” he said.

The Rabindra Sangeet singer also had his doubts about the quality of performance by foreign artists brought in an unlawful manner.

“This is a mere waste of money,” he said.     

Golam Quddus, the president of the central platform of cultural organisations  Sammilita Sangskritik Jote, also said the authorities should increase  monitoring.