Sunday, 13 May, 2007

Baroda university dean suspended. Achyuth Punnekat.CNN-IBN

New Delhi: The Baroda Art controversy has taken a new twist. The dean of the Maharaja Sayajirao University's Fine Arts Faculty was suspended late on Friday night. Dean Shivji Panikker had come out openly in support of the students arrested for painting allegedly obscene works.

The University management has also closed down the exhibition where the paintings were on display.

BJP leader Niraj Jain said, “The students, teachers and the dean involved in this should immediately be suspended and if this is not done then the student leaders of Baroda will not remain silent."

That’s the demand the Hindutva brigade put forth after they vandalised this exhibition at the MS University on Wednesday for displaying allegedly obscene paintings.

And the University management seems to have completely bowed down to that fatwa. University top brass first refused to bail out the students who painted these works, when police arrested them.

And now the management has suspended the Fine Arts Faculty dean Shivji Panikkar after he openly supported his students.

MSU Fine Arts Faculty Dean Shivji Panikkar said, “Entire faculty of fine arts, staff, students and the artist community are with the student. I mean, the person is not even an artist. He's an art student. These are his creative works submitted for evaluation."

The University management reportedly decided to suspend Panikkar, after he refused to close down the controversial exhibition where the paintings were displayed.

Meanwhile, the arrested students are still in custody. One of them, Chandramohan, was produced in court on Friday.

The court has posted his bail hearing for Monday.


Sudhakaran said...

I do earnestly join the fraternity and register my strong protestb against the fascist attack on the artists and the thoroughly unjust action against Shivaji Paniokar

R. Siva Kumar said...

The incident at the Fine Arts Faculty at the MS University, Baroda was most unfortunate. Although I have not seen the works that is supposed to have sparked off this violent intervention into the academic functioning of the Baroda Faculty I do believe that is not the way to air our disagreement in a democratic society, and the action raises serious questions about the future of academic freedom in our country.
Even more troubling is the way in which the University administration has reacted to the events that followed. By any reckoning it should have been their duty to protect the sanctity of academic freedom. But by not providing legal aid to the student under attack and even more so by closing down the Art History Department for rightly trying to demonstrate that what the right wing nationalists find objectionable in contemporary art is in fact one of the age old defining features of Indian art including Hindu religious art, and finally by suspending the Dean for taking a principled stand they have failed in their responsibility.

Please accept my support in the defence of academic freedom and the right to exercise it an atmosphere of freedom, without coercion and without outside interference.

Ivan said...

Even if the artwork in question had been on public display the right of the individual to express him/herself is vital to a free and democratic society. As it is the artwork was not on public display but part of a students exam work!

Will this fascist policing now stop you from reading certain books or watching certain films or plays…? It reminds me of the political and social changes, which took place in Germany during the 1930’s, is this the destiny for India too?

Action must be taken now to stop this exrtemist bullying and to uphold the civil rights of the individual and artist for that matter...Ivan Smith

Saba said...

This is a shameful moment in the history of our democracy.

Vijay said...

Where were you guys when Muslims all over the world went beserk over mohammed's cartoons? In India, they took out huge processions chanting the most aggresive slogans, disturbing day to day life for millions.

Where was your fight for Freedom of Expression when the Great MF Hussain meekly withdrew his movie because the Muslim clergy took offence against the use of their God's name in one of the songs? Neither Hussain nor any of your crusaders for freedom uttered a word.

Where was all this breast beating when the current Congress govt. informally banned screening of Da Vinci Code across many states in India, because some Christian Clergy took offence to the fictitious plot of a novel??

Your so-called fight for Freedom of expression lacks credibility. Unfortunately, you guys lack the spine to stand up for truth. It's only because this incident has happened in Gujarat that all this tamasha is happening.

Kindly ask your liberated creative minds to extend their creativity to similar paintings of Gods/Godesses of Non-Hindu religion and let's see how many are left standing.

Hypcoricy packaged with Selective Self-righteousness doesn't mean Standing up for Freedom.