Sudden cancellation of music festival leaves many questioning organisers and local administrationAfter witnessing big success with its first iteration, Shakti Peak Festival Nepal this year too had organised a similar music festival. However, the much-hyped ‘international music festival’—which was slated to begin from Friday, and was expecting to bring in a lot of foreign followers—was cancelled by the government at the eleventh hour.
After witnessing big success with its first iteration, Shakti Peak Festival Nepal this year too had organised a similar music festival. However, the much-hyped ‘international music festival’—which was slated to begin from Friday, and was expecting to bring in a lot of foreign followers—was cancelled by the government at the eleventh hour. The event was being organised at the Rankedanda area in the border of Sankhuwasabha and Tehrathum districts; the same venue the festival was organised at last year.
The local administration of Sankhuwasabha and Tehrathum, apparently with instructions from the centre, called off the festival, and stopped hundreds of foreigners who were on their way to the venue. The government authorities claimed that they stopped the programme as it was a ‘trance party’, and not a music festival as advertised. Subas KC, chief of Shakti Peak Festival Nepal, however, claimed that it was not a trance party but a music festival with music and dance line-ups from local and international artists, yoga and meditation sessions, et cetera.
The organiser claimed that they had prior permission from the local units to hold the music festival. Pasang Sherpa, ward chief of Madi-9, admitted granting permission to organise the music festival, from April 5 to April 20. However, the festival could not be organised as planned after the local administration imposed a ban on the festival on the first day itself.
According to the organiser, musicians from 72 different countries were scheduled to perform in the festival which would be attended by tourists from 103 countries.
Police stopped more than 300 tourists at Hile of Dankuta and Tutedeurali of Sankhuwasabha on Friday. They were heading to the venue at Rankedanda, which lies at ward number 1 and 2 of Madi Municipality of Sankhuwasabha, and ward number 6 of Menchheyam Rural Municipalilty-6 of Tehrathum.
Issuing a statement on Friday, the District Administration Office in Sankhuwasabha claimed that the programme was cancelled due to possible threat in peace and security and ‘indecent activities’. “The organiser did not even inform the Home Ministry about the programme,” said Ganesh Bahadur Adhikari, Chief District Officer of Sankhuwasabha. “We were compelled to stop the festival as it aimed to breach the country’s existing legal provisions. The festival threatened our cultural beliefs in the name of promoting tourism.” According to him, Nepal Tourism Board was also unaware about the music festival being organised in Nepal.
Hundreds of tourists were stranded in Hile after police stopped them from reaching the venue. Scores of tourists were found running helter skelter for hotel accommodation in the tiny town. The last-minute cancellation meant they had to find their way out of Hile for which they were unprepared.
Arif Saik, a musician from Bangladesh, told the Post that he came to Nepal after knowing that a music festival was being organised there. He said, “We were suddenly informed that the festival has been cancelled. We are now returning with a heavy heart.”
The tourists and festival goers even complained of being disrespected by the authorities and their ‘high-handedness’ in tackling the whole situation. Suspecting the tourists possessed narcotics, the security personnel even frisked some tourists. But nothing illegal was recovered from them, said police.
Last year, the same music festival was organised by the same organisers in the same venue without any hassle. Sources said that even the local administration, police and high level officials were involved in the festival directly or indirectly last year.
Subas KC taken into custody
Subas KC, chief of the Shakti Peak Festival Nepal, has been taken into police custody for investigation. Dhankuta police detained him and took him to Sankhuwasabha on Sunday. A security source said preparation is on to file a case against him. Meanwhile, the organiser filed a writ petition at Dhankuta bench of Biratnagar High Court regarding the local administration’s move to prevent the music festival.