Sunday, 13 May, 2007

we need to know how to paint??

The Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.University, Baroda was witness to the heights of disruption of peace and moral policing. The annual display of works of final year students of both the B.A. as well as the M.A. levels was in progress. It was at such a time that a certain Right fundamentalist lawyer, Mr. Niraj Jain arrived with his mob of hooligans, as well as the police, and created a huge ruckus in front of the works of a student-artist names Chandramohan, from the Graphics department, (MVA II). Claiming that the works hurt the religious sentiments of people, and that they were indecent, obscene and disrespectful of Gujarati tradition and culture, he ensured that the student Chandramohan was manhandled and roughed up and later arrested by the police. This arrest was done without any permission from a faculty authority or the dean in-charge and on the claim that they possessed an arrest warrant, under Kalam 153, which charged the student with ‘hurting religious sentiments’ and ‘possibilities of provoking riots’. Later however, it was discovered that no such warrant existed and that the police merely acted upon a complaint. Mr. Niraj Jain and his mob played out a perfect role of the moral police, later threatening to collect a larger mob and destroy Chandramohan’s works; thereby threatening to put in danger works of other student-artists as well. Such vandalism and hooliganism brought all the examination procedures and assessments of the students’ works to a standstill. Further, since it was not a public display of works, in that no invitation or advertisement was sent out, the man and his mob trespassed on university property, and without any authorization from any faculty staff members, including the dean in charge Prof. Shivaji Panikkar, he disturbed the exams, by also arresting Chandramohan’s friend Venkat on the grounds that Venkat had helped Chandramohan in his work.Mr. Niraj Jain, with the support of his associates as well as the police, threatened the students of the faculty. The police too passively cordoned off the students from the Graphics department, while permitting Mr. Jain and his associates to move about freely around the entire faculty. In response to such unruly behaviour, all the students of the faculty lodged a letter of complaint against Mr. Niraj Jain on the grounds of disrupting university exam procedures, disrupting peace, threatening the destruction of works, trespassing university property, and staged a silent dharna of sorts outside the Sayajigunj police station, where Chandramohan was locked up. Despite filing the complaint, the police refused to file it as an FIR, and further refused to let the student out on bail. When the students demanded that if his friend was arrested, then they too be arrested, the police immediately released Venkat. Further, it was because of the student’s protests that Chandramohan will be produced in the court soon.The students and artists community, not only in Baroda but all over the country are deeply worried about the condition of Chandramohan and condemn such moral policing and thwarts on our freedom of ex-pression, and our fundamental rights as citizens of India

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