Sunday 13 May 2007

Protest Letters / Statements

We, the undersigned---artists, art lovers, and freedom loving citizens of India in Pune---condemn the shameful invasion of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda by a coercive group of outsiders during an in-faculty viewing of the works of students and the illegal arrest of a student Chandramohan for showing allegedly obscene works.

The students of the faculty as a novel and educative protest against this terrorist act mounted an in-faculty exhibition of 2,500 years of erotic art in Indian history. The Vice Chancellor of the MSU ordered this exhibition to be dismantled, which the Dean of the Faculty of Arts refused to do in the absence of written orders. The Dean was suspended by the Vice Chancellor. The arrested student has now been released on bail.

The Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Home Minister of Gujarat, and the Vice Chancellor of MSU owe an explanation---if not an apology---to the people of India for violating the Constitution of India by ignoring due process and encouraging populistic vandalism. Our feelings---as citizens of India---are hurt by these blatant unconstitutional acts.

Artists, writers, scholars, dissidents, and non-conformists must be allowed to express themselves freely. Once their work is in the public domain its value can be debated in a civilized way. Such continuous free debate and discussion is the very breath of democracy. This is the way a civil society looks at liberty.

We deplore that this should happen in the year in which India celebrates sixty years of independence and fifty-seven years of its secular democratic Constitution.

This is a national issue and not a state or local issue. It concerns all of us as individuals and, in particular, artists and art educators as a cultural minority. They cannot be let browbeaten or manhandled by goondas, hooligans, and vandals.

We urge you to sign this statement in approval of the above sentiments.

SIGNATURE NAME ADDRESS Tel/Mobile/E-mail:
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Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 11:12:49 +0530
Subject: IFA condemns attack on artistic freedom
India Foundation for the Arts pledges support for Chandramohan, Dr. Shivaji
Panikkar and the cause of artistic freedom


India Foundation for the Arts wishes to place on record its shock and
concern over the manhandling on May 9 of MS University Baroda, Fine Arts
Department student, Chandramohan by persons labelling his art work obscene
and offensive to religious sentiments. We are also deeply distressed about
the blatantly unfair suspension of Dean Dr. Shivaji Panikkar. Dr Panikkar is
one of the leading art historians of this country who has often and
generously shared his expertise with us.


This is a shameful moment in the history of our democracy. IFA calls upon
everyone in the arts community and outside it to lend their voices in
support of artistic freedom, civilised protest, open debate and tolerance
for diversity. Let us do all we can to ensure that Baroda never happens
again.

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To,
Mrs Maneka GandhiMP,
Lok Sabha14
Ashok Road
New Delhi 10.5.2007

Dear Maneka
I am writing to you on behalf of the community of Indian artists,writers, and the larger fraternity of creative practitioners. As you may be aware, Chandramohan, a student of MS University Barodahas been arrested and kept in jail since May 9, as a consequence of anattack by VHP miscreants at a student examination at the universitypremises. The attack itself, and the fact that Chandramohan has beenheld on a nonbailable warrant is a cause for the most grievous concernfor the community at large. The dismantling of a peaceful exhibitionand the sealing of the art history department at MS University todayhas further exacerbated the situation. Coming on the heels of the sustained harassment of the senior artistMF Husain, the community of artists, writers and cultural activistshas been compelled to organize a series of protests at Baroda, Delhi,Mumbai and other cities and university centres in India. Given your close association with the arts both within government andat an individual level, we would request your specific support inraising a question in Parliament on monday, May 14 on the detentionand harassment of Chandramohan, within the larger and deeply troubledissue of freedom of expression in India. On behalf of the artist community I would also invite you to theprotest meeting at Delhi at the Lalit Kala Akademi at 6 pm on mondayMay 14, 2007.
Please do come and extend your support.

With warm regards
Gayatri Sinha
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Dear friends,

I share all of your deep shock and outrage at what has occured at the Fine
Arts Department at M.S.University, Baroda, in the course of the past few
days,. I do not have words strong enough to condemn the uncalled for police
intrusion into the campus, the arrest of the post-graduate student, Chandra
Mohan, and the violence and indignity meted out to him, the disruption of
the protest exhibition organized at the Fine Arts Department, and the
consequent suspension of the Dean of the Fine Arts Department, Shivaji
Pannikkar. All this, coming in the wake of the unabated attacks and the most
recent court summons on M.F. Husain, comes as a chilling warning about the
extreme vulnerability of our public positions as artists, intellectuals, and
academics. It underlines the urgency of our mobilization today in defence
not only of our private rights of opinion and expression but equally of the
public domain of our autonomy and intellectual positions. I write this brief
note to express my full sympathy and solidarity for senior and junior
artists like Husain and Chandra Mohan, and for my colleague and fellow
academic, Shivji, at this hour of crisis. I also wish to express my
admiration for the brave and committed stand that Shivji and the entire
fraternity of the Fine Arts Faculty has taken on this issue, and their
refusal to kowtow to the commands of the University authorities. My
colleagues at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, will be
drafting a formal resolution and note of protest tomorrow to release to the
press, to coincide with the nation-wide protest meetings being organized
tomorrow (May 14) around these events. Meanwhile, I would be grateful if you
could circulate my note among the larger mailing group, and convey my
thoughts and support especially to Shivji.

Tapati Guha-Thakurta
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Dear Hon. Anandiben Mafatbhai Patel, Minister for Education, State of Gujarat, min-edu@gujarat.gov.in
Hon. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister, State of Gujarat, mail@narendramodi.org
Hon. Y. R. Meena, Chief Justice, Gujarat High Court, rg-hc-guj@nic.in
Hon. L. K. Advani, BJP Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Lok Sabha, advanilk@sansad.nic.in


On Thursday, May 10, 2007, Inspector Jhale of the Sayajiganj Police Station in Vadodara along with a group of VHP members entered the annual student evaluation held at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M. S. University, Vadodara. They used violence against Mr. Chandra Mohan , a Master's Candidate in the Faculty of Fine Arts and the police arrested him without warrant and without any cognizable offence. The charge leveled against him after the arrest is obscenity. The police and the VHP group are evaluating with their violence a student's work produced for his Master's dissertation. We are also aware that the Faculty of Fine Arts, particularly its students led by their Dean, Dr. Shivaji Panikkar have protested this action in various ways. This has led to Dr. Panikkar's suspension.

We are writing to you to lodge a protest against this action. We protest the arrest of a citizen of India without warrant. We also protest the interference by people who are not the student's teachers. Educational institutions are spaces where students learn skills and gain knowledge. They must have the freedom to experiment without fearing censorship, violence and legal action. Their teachers must evaluate students, as Mr. Chandra Mohan was, and not by a mob of people who use violence. This is fundamental premise of education in a democracy.

The events Gujarat not only undermine the freedom to learn but also undermine teachers and our system of education. M.S. University has a fine history of progressive education. The Faculty of Fine Arts has produced India's most renowned artists and the Art History Department is the first to be established in independent India. It is also one of the few departments where students can pursue their education through the Ph D.

We understand that the bail hearing has been heard but the judgment has been postponed to Monday, May 15, 2007. We ask all of you to recognize the importance of Mr. Chandra Mohan's predicament, drop the case against him and restore the integrity of the relationship between students, their teachers and their educational institution. We are asking you reverse the suspension of Dr. Panikkar.

We hope that you will all work together and arrive at a speedy way to rectify this travesty of justice

Art, Resources & Teaching
79 Hutchins Road IInd Cross
St Thomas Town, Bangalore 560 084
+91.80.2580.0733 info@artscapeindia.org www.artscapeindia.org
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Dear All,
Forgive my resorting to a short cut. I am sending you a bcc of my letter to poet and art critic/historian Ranjit Hoskote to the shocking arrest of art student Chandramohan on the campus of the M.S. University, Baroda following a B.J.P. leader's objection to his works of art. The Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts has been suspended by the Vice Chancellor for backing the
student-artist. You can follow the story in the media. It has chilling implications for the
future of civil liberties in India.
If you have any comments, feel free to send them to New Quest.
Dilip Chitre
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The incident at the Fine Arts College is yet another assault on democracy and freedom of expression. These fascist forces are getting away with their attack on basic human rights, because we are still not taking to the streets. There is a great urgency to save this country and we can't wait anymore for such incidents to happen. I am deeply saddened and just wanted
to express my solidarity with you and others who have taken a strong stand. Please convey the same to Chandra Mohan and other fellow members in this struggle. As you probably know, we are also gathering in large numbers (I hope!) at Rabindra Bhavan on the 14th at 6pm to protest against this cultural policing. In solidarity, Nandita Das
A-14 Gulmohar ParkNew Delhi-110049IndiaTel: +911126515387
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I EXPRESS MY SOLIDARITY.I AM OUT OF TOWN TILL THE END OF THE MONTH AND AM NOT ABLE TO ATTEND ANY OFTHE MEETINGS ,BUT I AM VERY MUCH THERE IN THE PROCESS OF PROTEST,WITH REGARDS,
N A V J O T
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6 comments:

shibu natesan said...

We refuse to be They (politicians)want us to be.
-Shibu Natesan

himanshu said...

THE INSTITUTION IS GREATER THAN MAN

Dear Professor Shivaji Pannikar & the Faculty of Fine Arts

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King.

Congratulations MSU Fine Arts Faculty.

I salute you for fiercely protesting this ‘barbaric’ invasion of your institution and this abridgement of freedom of artists by this illegal encroachment, by those undesirable elements in power.
The more educated and cultured would have resorted to a more effective protest that is intellectual, if necessary educational, firm as needed, but without offensive language or threats of aggression.

Giving money and power to those in positions of authority is tantamount to giving whisky and car keys to teenage boys.

Magnifying this issue beyond realistic proportions for self gain and political mileage only serves to reiterate what the Father of Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “he who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

Galvanise and mobilize.
Boycott this political assault against artistic freedom and autonomy.
Never apologise for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologise for truth.

Do not waiver in your support of Dr. Shivaji Pannikar, a true academic, an epitome of integrity, professionalism, dedication, commitment and justice.
I feel honoured and proud to have been your student years ago.

Stand united and do not succumb to threat, do not allow these vandals to accomplish an extinction of natural feeling, narrowing of the spiritual field of vision and destruction of all the deeper elements of character in man, vital attributes that they lack.

Had we, the humans all over the world, been a little bit tolerant of other’s views, men like Socrates and Mahatma Gandhi would have died their natural death.

Be assured that your struggle, your sacrifices is not only gaining national, but international momentum and support, and the perpetrators, international disgrace and condemnation.

Iqbal Abdul Haq
(Head of Art & Design- Gulf English School- Kuwait)
ex-MSU Art History student.
miabdulhaq@yahoo.com

Kashmiri artists said...

Artists angry at intervention
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, May 14: The artist community of Valley have strongly condemned the intervention of “politically motivated religious groups” in the internal affairs of Fine Arts Faculty in Baroda and beating up of students.
“The group had no right whatsoever to demoralize the students and the faculty of Baroda Faculty of Fine Arts and the eminent artist and Professor Shivaji Panikar,” the artists and teachers said during a protest held inside the Institute of Music and Fine Arts College here Monday to express solidarity with the victims.
“This act of pure vandalism and fascism not only overshadows the art scene in Gujarat but can be taken as an excuse by other extremist forces outside the state waiting to follow the example,” the artists said.
They requested all the artists, intellectuals, writers and the civil and cultural society of India and abroad to pressurise the government of Gujarat to immediately release the student and apologize to the faculty members and reappoint Professor Shivaji Panikar as the Dean faculty.
The culprits responsible for the act should be punished, they said.

Kashmiri artists said...

Artists angry at intervention
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, May 14: The artist community of Valley have strongly condemned the intervention of “politically motivated religious groups” in the internal affairs of Fine Arts Faculty in Baroda and beating up of students.
“The group had no right whatsoever to demoralize the students and the faculty of Baroda Faculty of Fine Arts and the eminent artist and Professor Shivaji Panikar,” the artists and teachers said during a protest held inside the Institute of Music and Fine Arts College here Monday to express solidarity with the victims.
“This act of pure vandalism and fascism not only overshadows the art scene in Gujarat but can be taken as an excuse by other extremist forces outside the state waiting to follow the example,” the artists said.
They requested all the artists, intellectuals, writers and the civil and cultural society of India and abroad to pressurise the government of Gujarat to immediately release the student and apologize to the faculty members and reappoint Professor Shivaji Panikar as the Dean faculty.
The culprits responsible for the act should be punished, they said.

Sweet William said...

``What other centered have built self centered men have pulled down.'' ---Martin Luther King Jr.

I wish this will not be the fate of MS. University in the hands of a VC who just could not care less.

Robin Shukla said...

Its no big deal that a man like Modi has won in Gujarat.

The votes are receipts of thanks from the post Godhra rioters.

These are the people who looted and raped and murdered with impunity at his goading.

These are the very people who crawl outside the doors of embassies of Western countries wanting to get in to those largely Christian nations, but at the same time harrass and mistreat Christians in Gujarat. Their soulmates in other RSS run states of India continue with their own agenda of ill treatment and sidelining the minorities.

The mandate does not exonerate Modi but rather exposes the lack of morality and conscience of the Gujarati, which have been subordinated by petty mercantile considerations.

In short, no big deal! Modi is a murderous bastard. They are many such bastards in Gujarat. They voted. He won.

Robin Shukla@gmail.com