A new chapter in the suppression of artistic freedoms is playing itself out at the Baroda Faculty of Fine Arts. The link will take you to a blog where you'll find more details as well as comment boards.
Here's a document I received with details. It's entitled
THE EVENTS SO FAR:
9th May 2007
Exam and evaluation work in progress
At around 3:30 in the afternoon, Niraj Jain storms into the Faculty of Fine Arts. He has a section of the media with him, and soon after calls the police who arrive in about two minutes, by which time they have manhandled Chandramohan. A final year MA student from a small village in Andhra Pradesh, Chandramohan is a BC, his father is a carpenter, and he studied at the JNTU, Hyderabad, and is one of the three Gujarat Lalit Kala Academy Awardees of 2005-‘06
Police whisk away Chandramohan and his friend Venkat Rao without producing an FIR or a warrant, and without having taken permission from the in-charge Dean, Dr. Shivaji Panikkar or the Vice-Chancellor of the University.
While all this is happening, Niraj Jain abuses and threatens Dr. Panikkar, other staff, and the students of the Faculty. Even though the Dean had informed the Vice-Chancellor and other authorities of the events taking place on campus, no help was forthcoming from their side. None of the higher authorities visited the Faculty.
The police order the removal of the ‘offensive’ pictures. All the while Niraj Jain and his associates roam freely in the campus threatening staff and students alike.
The police ACP, T. R. Parmar order that the offending five works be taken down and sealed. This was communicated to the Vice Chancellor, and the sealing process begun. Niraj Jain and associates want to tear down the works and vandalise them. Towards the end of the sealing process, the in-charge Registrar, Mr. Beedekar arrives, during which time the students have drafted a complaint to the Police Commissioner, who directs them to lodge a compliant at the Sayajigunj Police Station. Initially the police refuse to register the compliant, but after some time they accept it, but as of today, it has not been lodged as an FIR. Following further negotiation with the Police Commissioner , it has been lodged in the Police Bhavan, in order for consideration as an FIR.
The Dean’s statement was also taken. Only late at night was a copy of the FIR against the student, under Section 153A, released. The student body’s compliant has to date not been acknowledged. The Center for Social Justice has appointed a lawyer who agreed to handle the case.
10th May 2007
Chandramohan was produced at court at about 10:30 a.m., along with a representative of the student body posting bail and a lawyer. A large contingent of VHP activists were also present, who jostled and intimidated him. Therefore the judge asked him to be removed to the Baroda Central Jail, where he has been lodged ever since. When the police produced the FIR, two new sections, - 293A and 293B, had been added to it. The case was adjourned till 3:30 p.m. Again the VHP crowd gathered following which the hearing was postponed to 2:30 p.m. the following day, on which day the judge did not turn up. So the student was remanded to another two days in jail, since the next two days were Saturday and Sunday.
The student has been lodged with other under trials and has not been ill treated in any way.
Students and Staff approach the Vice-Chancellor to submit a memorandum bearing the following two important points:
The University must file an FIR against Niraj Jain for disrupting the exams.
Extend all legal help to the student in custody.
Instead of a response to these demands the Vice-Chancellor wanted an unconditional apology from the staff and the students of the Faculty of Fine Arts, for offending their sentiments tendered to the public. It was rejected by the staff/students body on the grounds that it would be tantamount to accepting that they have committed a wrong, whereas that was patently not the case.
No help was forthcoming from the University authorities till the end of the day, except for the Vice-Chancellors contention that an FIR could be lodged by the Dean in his personal capacity, a proposition that was again not acceptable to the students/staff of the Fine Arts Faculty.
11th May 2007
It was decided by the students that an exhibition dealing with the long history of Erotica in both Indian and Western art would be put up in order to inform the press and the public. This exhibition was set up around 2 to 3 in the afternoon. Many came and visited the exhibition. It was suggested that the staff members leave the campus as the situation was becoming increasingly tense and volatile, but a section of the media would not allow that to happen, following which the staff had to lock themselves into the art-history department. At around 4:00 p.m the Deputy Registrar issued a verbal request that the exhibition be closed down, which the Dean refused to do as it was a decision taken by the students and was a peaceful protest drawing from the academic curriculum. A written order followed, and was received by the Dean and Faculty members, but work on the exhibition carried on. The Pro Vice Chancellor then arrived at the venue, accompanied by some members of the Syndicate of the University. They requested Dr Panikkar to close down the exhibition, then ordered him to do so. When it became clear that the Dean would not bend to their will, they had the exhibition locked. The argument put forward by the Dean was that, since, in spite of the number of times that the students had invoked the help of the University authorities in the matter, and insofar as no help had been extended to them, how could he, as the Dean, be sure that their actions were in the best intentions and for the good of the University? The Dean reiterated that he would stand by the students and staff in the matter. The authorities went ahead with the sealing of the exhibition as well as the Regional Documentation Center. BJP corporators who had come to see the exhibition were very abusive to the women staff, going so far as to say that they would like to see their nude pictures on the wall.
A suspension order was pasted on the Dean’s Residence door at 10:00 p.m. No reason has been given as to his suspension. As per the local media, the Dean of Management Faculty, professor Maheshwari, has been given charge of the Fine Arts Faculty. Teachers have gone on mass casual leave in protest of the University’s decision.
Meanwhile, I've receieved the following list from ZIGZACKLY of locations where solidarity protests are being staged:
Date and time for all: 14th May, 6p.m .
New Delhi - Rabindra Bhavan
Mumbai - Jehangir Gallery
Vishakapatnam - Faculty of Fine Arts, Andhra University
Cochin - Kashi Art Café
Hyderabad - Fine Arts, S N School, University of Hyderabad
Bangalore - M G Road, opposite Gandhi statue
Santiniketan - Kala Bhavan
Guwahati - Press Club