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|May 4, 1998||
Artists condemn attack on Husain's house
Eminent painters Vivan Sundaram, Jatin Das, Anjolie Ela Menon, Manjit Bawa and Manu Parekh on Monday condemned the attack on artist M F Husain's house in Bombay, allegedly by Bajrang Dal activists on May 2, and called for stringent action by the government to stop the increasing attacks on art and artists.
At a press meeting organised by Sahmat in New Delhi, the artists expressed alarm at the growing number of such incidents, and said it was shocking that the Bajrang Dal activists should attack Husain who was part of the progressive group which was responsible for laying the foundation of modern Indian art.
On Friday, 26 people, allegedly Bajrang Dal activists, stormed Husain's house in Cuffe Parade, south Bombay, and ransacked it in protest against an 'obscene' lithograph of Hanuman and Sita, drawn by the painter 20 years ago.
Sundaram said the attack was not a spontaneous one but well-planned. It was shameful that such an assault should take place on "a most significant, modern, secular and progressive Artist". Husain had dealt with Indian mythology and religion in a very appreciative way, he added.
''Why should only artists protect artists?'' Jatin Das asked in an agitated manner, adding that the whole country should be concerned about it. ''If it is happening to Husain, it could be happen to any one of us''.
Das, who was physically assaulted at artist Arpana Caur's gallery in Delhi by a group led by former Bharatiya Janata Party MP B L Sharma 'Prem' last year, complained that the media was not doing enough to highlight the attacks on an artist's freedom.
''If culture has flourished in free India and has reached a global level it is because of cultural freedom. In a fundamentalist state, art will just die,'' cautioned Anjolie Ela Menon.
Several art gallery owners and theatre personalities also condemned the attack on Husain.
''The increasing attacks on arts and artists have alarmed us all, but this invasion of the private space of an eminent citizen shows the brazen confidence these forces have acquired recently'', said a statement signed by renowned personalities from the world of art.
In the statement, the artists, theatre personalities, journalists and social workers expressed alarm that the Bajrang Dal activists arrested for the assault had been let off with minor sureties of Rs 1,000 each.
''This is farcical. The miscreants need to be booked for criminal trespass, intimidation and destruction of property, to prevent such incidents recurring in future. The government has to act immediately to restore the atmosphere in which the creative community can continue to function without fear," they said.
On Sunday, the Jan Sanskriti Manch took out a march to the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi to protest against the "fascist attacks by fanatic Hindutva forces of the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal", on Husain and noted Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali.
Noted writers who took part in the march criticised the "Hindutva fanatics" for launching attacks on Muslim cultural personages.
''Yesterday it was Ghulam Ali, today it is M F Husain and tomorrow the attack may be against Bismillah Khan or Amjad Ali Khan. Then, with the increase in all its scope, all progressive and democratic cultural personages will come under the periphery of their attack. This spectre must be exorcised in time'', the Jan Sanskriti Manch said.
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