The arrest of art student Chandramohan in Baroda and subsequent happenings including the suspension of Dr Shivaji Panikker, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University ,Baroda has sent shock waves in the world of art and culture in Tami Nadu.
Protests are being organized across the state against this assault on the sacred environs of a pre-eminent art institution in the country and on the idea of ‘free expression’ which is the very foundation of a democracy. The whole episode is seen by artists and writers in Tamil Nadu as an example of state terror and moral policing with the support of a fascist mob and brings into context once again the role of the State Government in Gujarat.
Artists and art students are gathering on Monday (6pm) at Hues Gallery in Chennai in a meeting called together by Professor Chandru, Principal of the Fine Arts College, Chennai together with art historians and writers Geetha Doctor and Sadanand Menon.
The meeting is to protest the arrest of Chandramohan and demand his immediate release and the re-instatement of Professor Shivaji Panikker in his position. Prof. Chandru, when asked his reaction to the happenings said that it was “very wrong”
Chennai based painter Asma Menon said that she is “shocked by the brutal and growing invasion of fascist forces into art portals” and said that she was “thinking about her children and their freedom of expression”. She said that it was “our duty to fight and defeat these threats to freedom” and that “the norms of artistic expression cannot be dictated by the state”.
Tamil Selvan, General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Association ,
talking from Madurai said that “ this is an example of the intolerance of fundamentalists
to the idea of free artistic expression” and “ it becomes a blatant act of fascism when it is supported by state terror”. He said that the Progressive Writers Association will be organizing protests across Tamil Nadu.
Artists, writers and cultural activists will be gathering in the premises of ‘Vamsi Books’ in Thiruvannamalai in the evening of Sunday, 12th May, to protest the arrest of Chandramohan and to demand his release. Contemporary Tamil short story writer Bawa Chelladurai who is calling together the gathering said that “a sustained campaign for freedom of expression is the need of the hour as this is not the first instance of moral policing and there is been a whole series of incidents in the country”.
Also in Thiruvannamalai veteran artist and art teacher (former Principal of the Fine Arts College in Chennai) A. P. Santhanaraj said that “it’s very sad”, but refused further comments as he was still to be appraised of the details of the story.
A report by Ananda Surya, poet and cultural activis,t from Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu