Monday, 21 May, 2007

your truth is not true - nikhileswar baruah

from nikhileswar baruah hide details 2:52 am (6 hours ago)
date May 21, 2007 2:52 AM
subject your truth is not true.

dear mr. manoj soni,
read your version of truth regarding the recent fine arts fiasco. i would like to request you not to misuse your position by issuing a statement which is partial, biased and misleading.
as an eye witness to the unfortunate events at the fine arts faculty on 9th may,2007,(and afterwards) i have a few things to say.

1. your statement says that "the citizens of vadodara lodged their strong protest" against some of the works by chandra mahon. do you think five/six people represent the citizens of vadodara? were they authorised or deputed by some kind of civic consensus?
it is alarming how loosely you use the term "citizens", making it sound as if the whole vadodara was on one side and the fine arts faculty was on the other side. wish you had some respect for facts. anybody (with an objective view of course) who witnessed the fine arts events from 9th may to 14th may will vouch for the fact that there are more people fighting for the fine arts faculty than people who were fighting against it. are "we" not citizens? or do we need some kind of approval/sanction to become citizens?

2. the news paper report saying that the display was open for public was a news paper report, not an announcement from the faculty authorities inviting general public( unlike fine arts fair, where fine arts faculty invites general public by means of invitation letters, announcements, poster campaign etc.). traditionally the fine arts annual display is open to people who are somehow related to fine arts ( friends and parents of students, artists, ex-students, art lovers etc.), who understand the nuances of art and know that a student's work (whatever the image) displayed within an academic institute can never be so influential as to disturb the fabric of a democratic society.
do you really expect us to believe that mr. niraj jain walked into the faculty as an innocent art lover without any agenda and spoted the so called "objectionable" works just by chance?
you also mentioned that some teachers sent out sms's inviting people for the annual display. i do not know if you use a mobile phone. let me tell you that when you send out group sms, it goes to people who are already on your phone book (meaning friends, family, acquaintances etc.), not to any tom, dick and harry who are out there with a pathetic agenda of civilising a society which is already civilised beyond their grasp.

3. you have twisted the chronology of events to protect people like niraj jain. neither police nor media "arrived" at the faculty. they came with niraj jain. why did he need media and police if he just wanted to express his complain to the concerned student and to the head of the institute?
the-in-charge dean did not ask for police protection as your statement states. he asked your office for protection from both the "concerned citizens" and the police. by the time the in-charge-dean came to know about the incident, the student was already arrested without informing the faculty or university authorities, after being manhandled by niraj jain and his group ( since you seem to base your arguments on media reports, please note that photograph of niraj jain manhandling chandra mohan was published in the news papers).
and when the students went to the police station later that evening to lodge a complain against niraj jain, the police did not even file an f.i.r. what kind of 'relevant legal provision" is this?

4. the in charge dean and faculty members were desperately trying to get in touch with your office. but no help came from the university authorities during the six/seven hours when mr. niraj jain was displaying his concern in the faculty premises. so when you say "university authorities deputed an official to provide all the possible(?!) help to the student", can you specify the date and the time? and if the "official" has any name or rank please? did the university appoint a lawyer (as it should have) so that the student can be released immediately, at least on bail? found it important to emphasise the point, by printing it in bold letters, that the protest (led by niraj jain) was verbal and peaceful(?!?!), nothing was damaged and nobody was injured. do you think they obliged us by not injuring anyone or by not damaging anything? or do you think they showed great restrain(applaud!) by not employing their usual methods?

6. subsequently, can you tell us how many of these organisations, groups, individuals of high repute ( who " strongly urged the university officials to intervenes and disallow the exhibition of such works") remain after you deduct those who wear the same political colour as mr. niraj jain? or do you have any reason to give more weightage to their side?

7. to ask the victim(the fine arts faculty) to express regret and apology was the height of absurdity beyond any logical understanding. do you think it is normal? do you really think so?

8. what do you mean by "displaying nude paintings in the name of indian culture"? they are part of indian culture. the works displayed(as a protest exhibition) were samples from traditional indian paintings and sculptures, not something created by the in-charge-dean or the students to hurt religious sentiments! we are all proud of our indian culture. you people are different though, ashamed of your own glorious culture and heritage.

9. your statement says "The Faculty of Fine Arts is an integral part of the prestigious The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, known for its substantial contribution in placing Gujarat & Baroda on international cultural scene, and as such cannot be left solely on the whims & wishes of any one individual."
your statement also says that other faculty members were present(in support) in the meeting when the in-charge-dean refused to apologise. try as you may, but the fact you can't deny is that majority of faculty members and students are protesting against the suspension of the in-charge-dean. so there is no question of "whims and wishes of one individual". the faculty of fine arts is an institute of international repute ( as you also mentioned it twice in your statement) because of these people, not because of your bunch of "concerned citizens", nor because of, sorry to point this out, the university authorities.

dr. shivji panikkar is not only a respected teacher, but also a reputed scholar with undisputed integrity and commitment. if some press report says that he compared the fine arts faculty to his bedroom, it is either a creative reporting, or a manipulation to fulfil some vested interest. i don't know which world do you belong to. but there are enough sane people in the society, thank you very much.

10. "The Security, particularly in the Faculty of Fine Arts, has been enhanced right from 09 May 2007. The Security personnel are ensuring that only those students and Members of the University fraternity are allowed entry inside the Faculty Campus who hold valid identity card or authentic identity document. Due care is also taken not to put genuine visitors to any inconvenience. The campus is totally peaceful." this is an utter lie. everybody and anybody could walk into the faculty till 13th may. and the faculty premises was crowded with all kinds of people. otherwise how could "organisations, groups, and individuals of high repute" who complained to you could see the "nude paintings in the name of indian culture" displayed inside the faculty, that too not in the front side but much inside? or did you give them permission to enter the faculty, so that they could complain to you? or was that the "due care" taken for "genuine visitors"? who was in charge of deciding who is a genuine visitor and who was not? the media was present inside the faculty almost round the clock. also one day when the fine arts students were on a sit-out protest, a group of a.b.v.p. members walked into the faculty holding, not i-cards, but placards (and shouting abusive slogans). did your security personal considered the tilak on their forehead as identity proof and let them in?
the issue of identity card and not allowing outsiders(including ex-students and artists, not as "genuine" as some others it seems!) came up only in the evening of 13th may, at 6pm to be precise. so obviously it had nothing to do with security, but insecurity on your part in the wake of the national level protest planed for the next day. the m.s.u. authorities and the police tried their best to stop the national level protest on 14th of may, though failed miserably. what are you scared of if you are right?
only truth in this part of the statement is that the campus is totally peaceful. what you forgot to mention is that it is peaceful not because of the police, or security, or the university authority, but because of the maturity of the fine arts students, teachers and their supporters.

11. mr. niraj jain saw to it that the "objectionable" works get as much publicity as possible, more than chandra mahon could even dream of, by reprinting it , or by describing the images to the media. when the police locked up the works, niraj jain led a group of media persons to take photographs of the images. the police officer in charge tried to stop them, but gave in eventually (niraj jain seems to have some super power). what was the point of removing the works from public view if they were going to be publicised? later that afternoon, when a christian lady was complaining that she could not see the work showing the cross, mr. jain promised her that he will show it to her. if it is simply a question of "hurting public sentiment", who did a greater damage, one who painted it, or one who took it to a wider audience/public ?

the summary of your story is that-
(a) niraj jain is an ideal citizen who is interested in nothing else but peace and harmony in society. and he was duly supported by the citizens of vadodara.
(b) chandra mohan is a criminal, deserved to be arrested (and jailed, if possible).
(c) dr. shivji panikkar is an adamant, arrogant, irresponsible person whose profession is to disobey orders from higher authorities.
(d) the artists, art lovers, academicians, activists and intellectuals from various fields, who stood up for the fine arts students and teachers, have no knowledge of art and culture, let alone social responsibilities. (may be we should take a course on indian art and culture from you and niraj jain?)

now, lets come to the point.
why are you taking so much of effort/trouble to justify some niraj jain, when, on the other hand, you were least bothered when one of your student was arrested, other students and teachers were insulted and terrorised by outsiders inside the university campus? why?
what could be your interest in an academic institution if you are not interested in academic procedure and safety of the students?
i am surprised that you head an institution of such repute as m.s.u. but i guess in today's time, one should not be surprised.
hope you have a reply.

yours shamefully,

nikhiledswar baruah