Hundreds protest no licences to theatres at Sonepur fair

Patna, Nov 7 (IANS) Hundreds of women dancers and other artistes staged a protest against the district authorities at the Sonepur cattle fair on Tuesday for the delay in providing licences to theatres, police said.

"They shouted slogans against the district administration and blamed them for delay in giving licences," a district police officer said, adding that the protesters demanded licences saying it is connected to their livelihood.

The theatre shows are a main attraction at the month-long fair which kicked-off last Thursday. This year, eight theatres have been set up at the fair in Bihar's Saran district.

The women, who have come from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kanpur and Lucknow, said that they have been waiting for the last five days for licences.

According to a theatre owner, more than 500 women dancers and artistes have arrived from different parts of the country to perform at theatres.

He said the district administration has delayed the licences despite repeated requests. "These women and other artistes earn their livelihood from this," he said.

District Magistrate Harihar Prasad said there is no ban on theatres at the fair but the administration has decided to ensure no vulgar dances are performed. "We will not allow vulgar dances at theatres."

Saran Superintendent of Police, Har Kishore Rai, said the delay was due to the vulgar posters pasted by the theatres to attract people, particularly the youth.

In the past, vulgar dances by scantily-clad women forced the authorities to suspend the licences of theatres at the cattle fair. The theatre are known for objectionable dance shows, vulgarity and semi-nude dancers.

The Sonepur cattle fair, considered Asia's largest such fair, is held annually, beginning on Kartik Poornima, at Sonepur in Saran district, about 30 km from Patna.

The fair ground is an extensive 500 acres of land near the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak rivers.


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