Bangladeshi crooner told to stop slaughtering national repertoire

A Bangladeshi singer, star of social networks, has been ordered by the police to stop performing the classics of the national repertoire, following complaints accusing him of slaughtering them. Hero Alom has nearly two million fans on Facebook and nearly 1.5 million on YouTube where he has been broadcasting his songs in extravagant videos for several years.

But the 37-year-old crooner has drawn the wrath of critics, accusing him of butchering classic titles from Bengali Nobel literature laureate Rabindranath Tagore and poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, two national treasures. “We have received many complaints against him,” Dhaka police chief inspector Harun ur Rashid told reporters. “He totally perverted the (traditional) style. We asked him why he did that. He assured us that he would not do it again,” he added.

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Hero Alom claimed he was “mentally tortured” last week while undergoing police questioning. “The police came to pick me up at six in the morning and kept me for eight hours,” he told AFP on Wednesday in his Dhaka studio, “they asked me why I was singing songs from Rabindra and Nazrul”.

“It seems that we can no longer sing freely in Bangladesh”

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The police asked him to stop singing these classics and to sign an “apology” message. They also demanded that he no longer appear in a police uniform in his videos and that he change his name, the singer said. “They also told me to take a good look at myself in a mirror, because I don’t look like a hero at all,” he continued.

His pseudonym “Hero” stuck with him when he began to find success in his home district of Bogra, 150 kilometers north of Dhaka. “I felt like a hero. I have adopted the name Hero Alom”, he explained, “I will not give it up”. Dhaka Deputy Police Commissioner Farook Hossain denied the singer was asked to change his name.

His treatment by the police outraged his fans on social networks, but also human rights defenders. “I’m not a fan of your songs or your acting. But if we try to muzzle you, I oppose it,” reacted journalist Aditya Arafat. Since his interrogation, Hero Alam has released a new video in which he appears behind bars, in prison uniform, looking dejected. “Currently, it seems that we can no longer sing freely in Bangladesh”, regretted Hero Alom.

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