Saturday, 12 May, 2007

Letter to Registrar

The Registrar
The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda

Dear Sir,

We the staff members and the students of the Faculty of Fine Arts are of the opinion that in view of the fact that outside elements forced their way into the premises of the Faculty on the 9th of May at about 3.30 pm and caused not only immediate closure of the examination work that was underway but got the police to take the final year student into custody and resorted to a near riot like situation and were despite all this were allowed to go scott-free, is a matter of great concern to us. Unfortunately we are now under pressure to offer apologies for permitting display of the allegedly offensive paintings. We the undersigned are firmly of the view that like any work of art, the intention of the said works were not to hurt anybody’s sentiments but to examine taboos in the light of creative investigation. They were certainly not intended to cause hurt or outrage to any public sentiment whatsoever.

It may also be stated that the said works were part of the final year annual display. The display is part of the annual examination process and an internal academic matter of the faculty over a considerable span of time and not an aberration in the academic procedures of the Faculty. Hence the disruption caused is an attempt not only to disrupt the process of evaluation but designed to undermine the stature and autonomy of an educational institute of international repute. There were attempts on the part of Mr. Niraj Jain and the mob accompanying him to paint the pictures as “anti Gujarat” and to inflame passions so as to cause maximum damage. It may also be noted that these very people were seen to be moving around with impunity, threatening and abusing students and teachers. This is a cruel irony in view of the fact that it is the Faculty of Fine Arts has made substantial contributions toward placing Gujarat and Baroda on the international cultural scene along with making equally substantial contributions in enriching the local environment.

It should be categorically stated that Mr. Niraj Jain did not want to discuss anything peacefully with the Faculty authorities and was, in fact, aggressively contemptuous of them. He came with the intention to cause disruption and breach of peace. This amounts to willful disruption of the examination process and wanton violation of the autonomy and sanctity of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

The action constitutes an assault on the core values of the university or for that matter of any academic institution in a democratic country like India. If situations such as the above are allowed to prevail, it would not only undermine the fundamental freedom provided to us by the constitution but also render it impossible for the faculty and its departments to function meaningfully.

We, therefore, urge upon you to safeguard the integrity of the university by filing an FIR immediately, identifying the perpetrators of whom the principal has already been named as Mr Niraj Jain.

Yours sincerely Copy to the Vice-Chancellor

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