Sunday, May 13, 2007 (Mumbai)
“ Whatever is happening is totally unacceptable! You can't use Hinduisim as a basis for your actions. ”
- Kitu Gidwani, model and actor
Protests are spreading to other parts of the country after the arrest of an art student by the police in Baroda.
Artists and art lovers in Mumbai got together to express solidarity for the student of one of India's best known fine arts colleges.
The student Chandra Mohan is still in jail after being arrested by the Gujarat police for the portrayal of Hindu Gods, in so called obscene manner, while the Dean of the Faculty has been suspended after protesting the arrest of the student.
Fight for freedom
From painting canvases to preparing protest posters, for students at Baroda's faculty of fine arts the last two days have been a lesson.
They are learning what the fight for artistic freedom is all about. ''You can't be dictated and told what is art and what is not,'' said one. ''The person who should be punished is still outside,'' said another.
''Today it was students, yesterday Parzania. How long can we tolerate this? We have to raise our voice,'' said another protestor.
These voices found an echo in Mumbai, where artists and others gathered to show their support to the students of Baroda.
''I find it a very sorry and sad situation. I think freedom has to be guarded,'' said Jehangir Sabavala, Artist.
''Whatever is happening is totally unacceptable! You can't use Hinduism as a basis for your actions,'' said Kitu Gidwani, model and actor.
''I think this is something very disturbing. It's bamboozling the freedom of expression,'' said Govind Nihalani, Filmmaker.
''It's got to do with politicians who try to rabble rouse and take advantage of such situations,'' said Alyque Padamsee, Adman and theatre-person.
As the country speaks up against moral policing and curbs on artistic freedom, artists in Mumbai hope their voice will also be loud enough to free Chandra Mohan, the art student who under arrest in Baroda. (With inputs from Supriya S, Yogesh P, Laxman J, Ramesh S, Vasudevan)