Film fest in Australia cancelled citing terror threats

Indo Asian News Service

Canberra, May 4 (IANS) The first edition of Indian Film Festival and Awards of Australia (IFFAA), which was supposed to take place from May 7-13, has been cancelled due to terror threats, say organisers.

An event which would have had Indian celebrities like Sonu Sood, Hariharan, Dharmendra, Javed Akhtar, Jeetendra and Ileana D'Cruz participating apart from Pakistani and Nepali artistes, was called off on Thursday.

"We have been working on organising the Indian Film Festival and Awards of Australia (IFFAA) over the past two years. The event was to be organised between May 7-13 and we had scheduled a long list of celebrities who would attend the event and do performances that would highlight the cinema from the Indian subcontinent," Vvikas Paul, chief organiser of the fest, said in a statement.

Paul said the organisers had been receiving a lot of threats from "vested interests who are not keen to see this talent come to Australia and for this event to go ahead".

Besides Indian artistes, the inclusion of Pakistani artistes is what triggered the threats as "fundamentalist groups here turned it into a political agenda".

Considering the current political situation prevailing between India and Pakistan, Paul says that the Pakistani artistes were "dropped" and it was decided that the event would have only Indian actors.

"Even after withdrawing the Pakistani actors and with heightened pressure over our event from anti-groups, we have decided not to go ahead with the event in view of the safety of not just the celebrities, my family's and my well-being, but also for the thousands of people who will be present to view the cultural extravaganza.

"With a very heavy heart we have deferred IFFAA till further notice and we wish the political situation improves with time, to re-launch it," he added.

--IANS

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