Sunday, 13 May, 2007

Artists unite against moral police. Supriya Sharma NDTV.COM

Supriya Sharma

Saturday, May 12, 2007 (Vadodara)

“ We have suffered enough. Cant allow this bullying to happen ”
- Shivaji Panikkar

The face-off between artists and the saffron brigade in Vadodara's M S University continues.

Members of the Fine Arts Faculty have gone on a mass casual leave in support of the suspended Dean, Shivaji Panikkar.

A local court meanwhile has extended the police custody of art student Chandra Mohan till Monday.

Chandra Mohan was attacked by VHP activists and jailed for so-called 'obscene art' but VHP activists are not satisfied. They now want Panikkar who defended Chandra Mohan's work to be arrested.

Autonomy at stake

Prof Panikkar, the dean in charge, was suspended on Friday night and has now gone into hiding, hounded by the moral police.

Panikkar met NDTV and broke down as he said this is a battle that now needs reinforcements. ''We have suffered enough. Cant allow this bullying to happen.''

There is enough support for Professor Panikkar, not just from artists but also from the university's teachers association.

Even a senate member argued that what is at stake is not just the freedom of an artist but the autonomy of an academic institution.

''Are we to allow people to walk into campus and tell us what we should be doing and what not. If this is allowed to happen then there's no end to it,'' said Prof Indraparamit Roy, faculty member.

''In the last few years, university has been taken over by the RSS. What you see today is ultimate saffronisation. Either you agree with us or else we bash you up. It is happening in appointments, promotions. The disgusting thing is the role of the Vice Chancellor who is meant to be a symbol of intellectual freedom,'' Prof Bandukwala, former faculty member.

Legal fight

On the face of it, this looks like solid support for the premier faculty of fine arts in what is one of the worst moments in its more than 50 years of history. But the odds against it are high.

BJP leaders argue that local leader Niraj Jain, who led the attack which ended in the student's arrest, did not violate the law.

''It is clear that the professors are misleading the students. No one has the right to hurt Hindu sentiment just because we are tolerant,'' said N V Patel, Head of Baroda BJP.

The student arrested is still behind bars, the dean stands suspended and the legal fight will have to be fought not just against VHP activist but against the university and as some would argue the law itself.


D.N.Rath said...

16/126, G.H.B. Colony, Akota Road, Vadodara – 390020. Ph: (0265) 2351418.

To, Date: 10th May, 2007.
The Vice Chancellor,
The M.S. University of Baroda,

Subject - Hooliganism in the Fine Arts faculty and entry of police in
University Campus.

We, on behalf of All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (All India D.S.O.) express shock and condemn the entry of police in the University campus, vandalism by so called ”moral –cultural police” – led by Niraj Jain in the faculty of Fine Arts on 9/5/2007. It is deplorable that despite your present in the office at the time of incident, instead of providing moral support to the students at the time of crisis, you and your office remain silent observer. The inaction on your part in the University and police station has shattered the faith of student community on you.

You know that the examination process and display of work has been going on. In such a crucial time, when peace should be maintained, then how could police and anti – social elements enter in the university campus and could terrorize the university students and staff? We believe that any work of art is a matter of academic discussion and could be discussed in a democratic manner. But any kind of vandalism to impose one’s opinion upon another is highly undemocratic and unconstitutional. When your office ought to safeguard academic sanctity and democratic atmosphere in the campus, police is entering in the fine arts faculty is highly shocking for the education loving community. The above incident has risen following questions which you must reply in public.

a) Before police entry in the University campus had police informed you and if informed then had university sent any concerned official to monitor the entire incident?
b) If any concerned authority had been sent by the University then how such vandalism could have been taken place in the fine arts faculty by the extra constitutional authorities and self imposed cultural police?
c) If your office had not been informed by the concerned police officers before entering into the university premises and arresting the concerned student, then why you had not lodged a complaint against the responsible police officers to the commissioner of police?
d) Despite your presence in the University office, instead of providing any moral support in this hour of crisis to students and teachers of the faculty of fine arts, neither you nor any other official was present in the Faculty and police station. Rather registrar’s act of sealing the display rooms and stalling the display was extremely terrifying for the students. According to University procedure whenever such legal action takes place concerning any students or teachers, the Registrar should be present and ought to handle the matter himself, then why he had not seen at all in the police station?

Thus by referring to the above-mentioned questions, we demand that the university authority should lodge a legal complaint against those responsible for vandalism in the university campus.

Thanking you,

(Mukesh Semwal), President
All India D.S.O, Vadodara District Committee

Copy to :
1) The Governor of Gujarat.
2) The Chairperson, UGC, New Delhi.
3) The HRD Ministry, Govt. of India, New Delhi.

D.N.Rath said...

16/126, G.H.B. Colony, Akota Road, Vadodara – 390020. Ph: (0265) 2351418.

Date- 10/5/2007
His Excellency
The Governor
Government of Gujarat,
Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Sub: Vandalism and police action in Fine Arts Faculty of
M.S. University, Baroda.


We would like to draw your attention on the act of vandalism and entering of police in educational institute of repute – Fine Arts Faculty of M.S. University, Baroda. M.S. University of Baroda is one of the prestigious University of Gujarat and various faculties and department are known world over. Faculty of Fine Arts is one the reputed institution in the country. Every year students display their work as a part of examination process. On 9th police entering into campus alongwith so-called “moral police” led by Niraj Jain terrorizing the students and staff of faculty and even arresting a student of the Fine Arts Faculty.

The student annual display is a part of an academic work and it should be evaluated in an academic manner. Police entering along with a mob and disrupting the examination process is highly condemnable. Police Department would have followed a procedure in dealing with an educational institution. They would have easily informed the faculty authority about hurting the religious sentiment of any community and the matter would have been solved amicably. But the way the battery of police entering the campus and terrorizing have disrupted the academic atmosphere. This would send a wrong signal about the universities of Gujarat across the world.
The role of Vice Chancellor of M.S.University, Baroda and his office in keeping aloof and became a silent spectator in this whole issue of vandalism is highly uncalled for.
We urge upon your office to intervene in the above said matter so that academic atmosphere and sanctity of the campus can be restored.

Thanking you,

(Mukesh Semwal), President
All India D.S.O, Vadodara District Committee