Ram 'warriors' smash Husain works

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  • Published 24.08.08

New Delhi, Aug. 24: Controversially banished from the government-backed exhibition, Maqbool Fida Husain’s paintings and photographs were today attacked by self-proclaimed “warriors” of Ram inside a sanctuary specially created to protest the artist’s exclusion from the official art show.

Ten members claiming to belong to the Ram Sena smashed framed paintings by Husain and the artist’s photographs, vandalising an exhibition organised by Sahmat, an NGO, to protest the exclusion of Husain’s works from the ongoing India Art Summit.

Till late evening, police had not registered any FIR, arguing that no official complaint had been lodged. Police officials said it was unclear whether the vandals belonged to the Sri Ram Sena, a Hindu fundamentalist organisation with close links to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

“The activists who vandalised the exhibition arrived around 3.30pm and left within 10 minutes after breaking chairs and smashing frames of the paintings and photographs,” said artist Arpana Caur, a witness to the incident. Caur said she had come with her husband and four others to see the exhibition.

The vandals left behind scribbled notes attacking Husain and claiming their act was in defence of Bharat Mata.

The India Art Summit, supported by the ministry of culture and tourism, started on August 22 without paintings by Husain that were earlier expected to be the star attraction of the show.

Artists and cultural activists across the country have protested against Husain’s exclusion from the art summit.

The culture ministry has distanced itself from the controversy, saying the decision on the paintings to include in the exhibition was taken by Hanmer and MS&L, the art summit’s principal organisers.

Husain, 92, lives abroad in self-imposed exile after cases were filed against him in 2006 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus.

Easily the best-known painter from the country, Husain has become symbolic of frequent controversies surrounding the imagery of Hindu gods and goddesses in works of art.