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Husain show on, Bajrang or no

New Delhi, Dec. 22: The India International Centre, the capital’s elite intellectual club, has decided to go ahead with an exhibition of paintings by M.F. Husain despite threats by Bajrang Dal activists.

The exhibition was, however, “suspended” for a day today after the club received “a large number of threatening calls” from Delhi, Mumbai and Pune yesterday.

A statement issued by the club said the decision was taken “pending” adequate security arrangements.

“It was decided that a discussion should take place between management and the sponsors and a review be conducted on the adequacy of security arrangements,” a club official said.

Sources in the club, which had been receiving “threatening messages and letters” for several days, said four unidentified persons had apparently barged into the office of the secretary on Thursday and threatened him.

Dolly Narang, the co-sponsor of the exhibition which opened on Tuesday, also received threat calls, the sources added.

Delhi Bajrang chief Ashok Kapur said he was unaware of the contents of the exhibition titled India in the era of the Mughals but made it clear he did not want anything of Husain to be displayed till the artist apologised for his nude portrayal of Hindu gods and goddesses.

“He has insulted our gods and goddesses,” he added.

Kapur said he told his “boys to find out what was happening” when he heard about a Husain exhibition at the IIC.

“We called police and told them there would be trouble if they didn’t stop the exhibition,” he said. “Even if I had not instructed them (Bajrang activists), they would have gone ahead,” he said with evident pride.

But the club has decided to go ahead with the exhibition with enhanced security.

“Attempts were made by the management to contact Narang, but she couldn’t be reached in the morning,” a club official said.

By afternoon, however, the management got in touch with Narang, who expressed her desire to continue the show.

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