By Arun Kumar:
India: Art student targeted by Hindu right and Gujarat authorities
28 May 2007
All those who care for and defend artistic freedom and basic democratic rights should condemn the attack that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Hindu supremacist allies have mounted, with the support of the Gujarat authorities, against Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) fine arts student Chandramohan Srilamantula and the acting dean of the MSU’s fine arts faculty, Shivaji Panikkar.
On the afternoon of May 9, Niraj Jain, an advocate and BJP activist, led a gang of Hindu supremacist thugs from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) in invading the MSU fine arts faculty, manhandling Chandramohan, and tearing down paintings and art installations exhibited in the annual appraisal show for final-year students.
The Hindu supremacists also hurled abuse at faculty and students.
The Gujarat state authorities were complicit in this attack.
The police at the Sayajiganj police station were informed by the Hindu supremacists of their plans to invade the university, but the authorities did nothing to stop them.
So confident were Jain and his associates that they could trespass onto the university, attack Chandramohan and vandalize his work with impunity, they brought local press photographers with them.
When the police did arrive, just minutes after the attack, it was the 23-year-old Chandramohan, a previous winner of the prestigious Lalit Kala National Akademi award, not his fascist victimizers, whom they arrested!
Chandramohan was subsequently charged with “hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and Christians in the district” under sections 295 A and 153 B of the Indian Penal Code on the grounds that his nude depictions of the mythical Hindu god Shiva Linga, Goddess Durga, and Jesus Christ offended religious sensibilities.
In fact, nude depiction of Hindu deities is a tradition going back to ancient Hindu temples.
Artists and works of art have repeatedly been the target of Gujarat’s BJP government and their Hindu supremacist supporters.
The former film riled the Hindu right because it depicted the BJP state government and its role in the 2002 pogrom unfavorably, the latter because it starred Aamir Khan, a Muslim actor who has criticized the Narmada dam project. …
Recently three criminal cases were filed against a popular Indian actress Shilpa Shetty and Hollywood actor Richard Gere for a “kissing incident” during an AIDS telethon.
In an editorial May 16, the liberal daily the Hindu said “The Chandramohan incident—which follows the M.F. Hussain and Shilpa Shetty controversies—points to a rising tide of intolerance and fanaticism.”
Conversion to Buddhism in India as a social protest: here.
Social inequality in India: here.