VHP attacks exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, Delhi


In yet another display of their intimidatory tactics, a group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members, led by B.L. Sharma ‘Prem’ and Raghu Vyas, raised abusive  slogans, indulged in physical assault and threatened vandalism at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, Siri Fort area, this afternoon (23rd February 1998). This was in continuation of a hysterical campaign whipped up against a lithograph by M.F. Husain, dating back at least 20 years, which was included as part of an exhibition (including works by Gaganendranath Tagore, Chittoprasad, Shamshad, Vivan Sundaram, former Prime Minister V.P. Singh, Arpana Caur, Sunil Das) that had been on display in the Gallery of the Academy over the last ten days. A statement issued by the VHP, which appeared in the press today, had warned that ‘if the painting is not removed from the exhibition by 3 p.m., Ram bhakts would set the entire exhibition ablaze’.

Well-known painter Jatin Das, who was present there along with other artists and intellectuals, was chased and physically manhandled by VHP activists when he pleaded with them not to indulge in obscene sloganeering.

It is alarming that in the heart of the capital, a gallery under seige is forced


to dismount an exhibition. It is also reprehensible that the police force, which was present in large enough numbers, did nothing to restrain the marauding VHP hooligans while they attacked Jatin Das and a journalist from BITV, and forced their way into the gallery.

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the series of fascistic attacks that have been launched by the Sangh Parivar (of which the VHP is an integral constituent) against freedom of artistic expression, of which today’s incident is the most recent. Further, we would like to use this instance to alert the democratic opinion in the country that this is merely a foretaste of things to come, if intolerant forces such as these are allowed to get anywhere near seats of political power.

Signed, among others, by:
Veer Munshi, Savi Sawarkar, Mona Rai, Nuzhat Kazmi, Anita Dube, Jasleen, Bose Krishnamachari, Madhavi Parekh, Ajay Desai, Satish Sharma, Ved Jamaluddin, Nishat Manzar, Ahmar Raza, Safia Akbar, Bharati Sharma, Deepak Kumar Ambuj, Trilok Pal, Jitendra Jain, Surbhi Nagpal, Hazra Khatoon, Mrinal Kulkarni, Anil Dayanand, Roy Thomas, Johnny M.L., Gigi Scaria, P.S. Joshi, Sumedh Rajendran, Jai Zharotia, Gopi Gajwani, Geeta Kapur