Saturday, 12 May, 2007

Gulam Mohammed Sheikh

Dear friends

You must have known through media reports that Chandra
Mohan, a student from the Department of Graphics at
the Fine Arts College in Baroda has been arrested on
9th of May 2007 for making an allegedly controversial

painting depicting nude figures with some religious
motifs. The arrest followed the storming of the
university premises by a group of outsiders. The work
in question was part of a display in the college

premises for assessment by a team of examiners for a

Master's degree in Fine Arts. Charged with sections
153 and 114 as well as sections 295 A and 295 B, he
has been denied bail and is presently in Central Jail,


In a civilized society any dispute on a controversial

depiction or content of a work of art can be dealt
with through dialogue and consultation with experts in
the field rather than left to self-appointed moral

police employing coersive means. In the present case,

the outsiders taking law into their hands barged into
the university campus without prior permission, did
not consult or inform the Dean of the Faculty before

disrupting the annual examinations in progress. The

reports are that they returned again to abuse the Dean
and threatened him with dire consequences.

Such an instance of assault on a student by outsiders

in the university premises is unprecedented in the

history of the Faculty of Fine Arts and must be
condemned in no uncertain terms. The Fine Arts College
known nationally and internationally for upholding the
highest standards of creative and critical practice

has also earned reputation for its firm commitment to
the freedom of expression. The former authorities of
the university like Smt. Hansa Mehta, the very first
Vice Chancellor in the fifties up to Prof. Bhikhu

Parekh in the eighties have stood by the Faculty and
its ideals. The present assault seems to strike at the
very ideals on which it was built by pioneering
artist-academics and supported by enlightened
university authorities. The present administration of

the university has not initiated any action against
the trespassers or applied for bail for the victimized
student. The students and staff of the Fine Arts
College have organized a dharna and the Acting Dean,

Prof. Shivaji Panikker has planned to undertake a
hunger strike in the College premises against the
assault on the student and callous attitude of the
university authorities. (Latest report is that the

Department of Art History has been sealed and Prof

Panikker has been suspended by the university
authorities). A solidarity demonstration of artists,
intellectuals and cultural workers from all over India

is called on 14th of May at the Fine Arts College
premises beginning 2 pm with an appeal to all

concerned to gather there to lend their support.
(Contact details below*).

As an alumnus and former teacher of the Faculty of

Fine Arts, I fear these developments may imperil the
working of an institution which in many ways has

formed our lives; and is indeed an integral part of
what we are today. I hope all other alumni and

teachers as well as concerned artists and
intellectuals of the country will come forward to
protect it in its moment of crisis when the values it

stands for are threatened.

Gulammohammed Sheikh
11th May, 2007

*Venue: Faculty of Fine Arts (or Fine Arts College),
Pushpabug, University Road, Vadodara (Baroda) 390002
TIME: 2 PM Onwards

Contact emails:
Shivaji Panikker:
Deeptha Achar : <>


Mozomo said...

Dear Gulam I must Thank Chintan for informing me abt this....This is unacceptable independence of expression thru any form of art is a basic right.

Savithri said...

This is shocking.I express my solidarity with the artist community of MSU.
Savithri Rajeevan

Kushal said...

we shuld hv a gr8 voice against this kind of vandalism.

Shobha said...

Being an alumna of MSU- Fine Arts, Art History Dept, I am very upset to hear such an atrocious event from MSU. I affirm my concern and camaraderie against this ridiculous incident.
Being the Director Board Member of Philadelphia/Tri State Artists Equity (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware), I am encouraging the board and members of the organization to express their solidarity with artist and freedom of expression.
I have already started sending e-mails to all major art groups here. I will be presenting this issue in the board meeting of McGOPA, another core group of professional Artists in the suburb of Philadelphia.
Dear Shivaji, please accept my sincere support in this dreadful event.
Shobha Menon,

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.

tripti said...

Pranam Sir,
First I would like to introduce my self, I am Tripti Singh, Research Scholar and my research is about Indian Digital Art, I am pursuing my research under supervision of Dr. Bhawani Shankar Sharma former Head Visual Art, Banasthali Vidyapith.

Sir, I am writing you this mail for collecting information for my Research. I would like to arrange your contribution in this medium for my research. I came to know you have contributed a lot in new medium. Therefore I request you kindly help me in collecting the information and recourses. I will be happy if you contribute me your information and knowledge about Indian digital art events and works, so that I can conclude it and complete given the assignment.

Sir, please let me know if I can send you small questionnaire and after questionnaire I would like to make a small video documentary about your work and information.
Sir I request you kindly let me know about how and when I could get the information about the topic.
Thanking you.
Sincerely yours,

Tripti Singh


Does freedom expression mean hurting the feelings of large number of residents of Vadodara?
In a Institution funded by public money prevent persons from visiting citizens to an exhibition being held in the public premises?
Was it indicated clearly that no visitors are permitted? Is it the private property of the dean or the students?
Simaltaneously why a particular religious group or groups are attacked? Why the so called believers of Islam are protected from creativity of these artists?