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FIR on artist for Krishna depiction

PLEA FOR TOLERANCE AND ARTISTIC FREEDOM FOLLOWS PROTESTS IN ASSAM

By Nilotpal Bhattacharjee in Silchar
  • Published 12.04.15
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The painting by artist Akram Hussain

Silchar, April 11: Members of the Assam Hindu Legal Cell lodged an FIR today with Silchar Sadar police station against Akram Hussain, a Guwahati-based artist, for allegedly depicting Krishna in an obscene manner in an exhibition at the State Art Gallery in Guwahati.

The state coordinator of the legal cell, Dharmananda Deb, district convener Ranju Deb and treasurer Jyotirmoy Nath lodged the complaint under Section 295(a)/34 of the IPC.

In the complaint, they said that the painting had hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindus.

The Hindu JagranManch had lodged an FIR with Latasil police station in Guwahati on Thursday seeking action against the artist.

The deputy commissioner of police, Guwahati (central), Amitava Sinha, said the police were examining the matter. But the picture was removed from the gallery after a complaint was lodged.

Sources said the painter had gone into hiding.

Media reports quoted sources that Akram through the painting attempted to show the recent trends where most of the youngsters are gripped by the menace of drug abuse and alcoholism.

Cutting across social strata, people have begun to speak out against intolerance.

"An artist can draw what he feels like drawing. He should be left free. Who has given Krishna a shape?" asked Shiela Bora, visiting faculty to the departments of history and women's studies in Gauhati University and a former Harvard University teacher.

According to her, the Singphos of Arunachal Pradesh used to worship a nature god called Rangfrah. "Being a nature god Rangfrah had no shape. Lately, though, they have given shape to their God, with a bunch of paddy hanging from one ear. When I saw this in Changlang, I asked them two things - why the need to make a statue of Rangfrah and how did they visualise Rangfrah? They told me that they felt there was a need to build the statue as there was this a growing fear of conversion to another religion, and, secondly that they visualised Rangfrah through what was said in their folklore. Arunachalis have also made a statue of Donyi Polo, the sun and moon, which they worship. I saw this in Itanagar. Who has seen Krishna? Or Kamakhya? I visualise Kamakhya in my own way. In Hussain's case, people may be upset about the gopis being dressed in bikinis, but maybe Hussain added a touch of satire to it. He should just be left alone," she said.

"People may dislike something as it goes against tradition. In such a scenario, criticism is enough. Where is there need to file a case with the police?" asked senior artist Neel Pawan Barua

Maini Mahanta, journalist and activist, agreed: "There should be freedom for artists. Art should be accepted as art."

Artists and painters were steadfast in their belief in freedom.

"Religious people may be offended as they have worshipped Krishna in a particular way. At the same time an artist may visualise Krishna in his own way," said Poran Bonti Devi, joint secretary of Gauhati Artists' Guild. "An artist may see a blue mountain as red."

"What was Krishna doing with all the gopinis around him? They would have worn what they did at that time. Now they maybe would have worn what they did in the painting. Artists must be given the leeway. I was born a Goxain and have been married into one of the oldest Muslim families of Assam for 35 years and very happily," said Kulkul Rahman, a woman trader from Guwahati.

Despite repeated attempts, the painter, Akram, could not be contacted.