Hindu outfit forces artist to take painting off exhibition #Censorship #FOE


, TNN | Apr 9, 2013,

Hindu outfit forces artist to take painting off exhibition
Painter Eleena Banik had painted Goddess Kali without the usual garland of skulls and another of Goddess Durga wearing a fig leaf cover of strawberries.
MUMBAI: Activists of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) Saturday forced a Kolkata-based painter to remove two canvases depicting Hindu goddesses in the nude. The Jehangir Art Gallerythat was hosting the exhibition, as well as officers of Colaba police station, urged her to comply in the interest of peace.

Painter Eleena Banik had painted Goddess Kali without the usual garland of skulls and another of Goddess Durga wearing a fig leaf cover of strawberries. “As an artist I retain the freedom to interpret my culture. Those who object to my art, or of M F Husain and Akbar Padamsee, have not read Hindu mythology where our deities are depicted nude. I drew Durga this way to empower women after the Delhi gangrape,” she said.

Banik accused Varsha Thakar of the HJS of “threatening her” and “forcibly taking photographs” of the paintings. “She arrived at the gallery on Saturday and asked why I had painted cherries on the figure of a female Hindu deity. I pointed out that they were strawberries and cited my rights as an artist to draw things the way I see them. I could draw a tree in violet colour and nobody could object,” she said. Thakar telephoned Colaba police station and senior police inspector Vinod Sawant arrived and requested Banik to remove the artworks for public peace. Thakar said, “We are not against artistic freedom but would like to know what connection can be drawn between the gangrape victim and a goddess. Why is it that artists take liberty with certain communities and are careful not to hurt others.” Shivaji Vatkar of HJS said they would move court if Banik didn’t remove the pictures from her website.

Banik countered she had shown the Kali painting in India and in London without incident.

Incidentally Jehangir Art Gallery had urged her to remove a painting on the opening day of the exhibition on April 2. Gallery director K G Menon said, “We are mindful to not display artworks that can offend people’s religious sensibilities.Our staff found the canvas of Durga offensive and because children and senior citizens alike visit the gallery, we urged her to take it down. She chose not to do so, and on April 6, the HJS arrived to object.”

Inspector Sanjeev Mandlik of Colaba said the matter was “sorted out” between the artist and protestors.

“The painter felt she had the right to express herself while the HJS argued that self-expression did not include the right to offend religious sensibilities. We requested her to remove the artworks and she did,” Mandlik said.

 

PRESS STATEMENT- Justice Markandey Katju on #Faizabad


 

 

Oct 30, 20012 – Press – Realease

 

I have received a letter from Ms. Teesta Setalvad, Co-editor of Communalism Combat mentioning in detail a serious communal accident which occurred on the evening of October 24, 2012. According to this letter, a huge group of people attacked the Nawab Hasan Raja Masjid in the chowk area of Faizabad for four to five hours committing arson and looting including looting of a large number of shops. The aforesaid Masjid was totally gutted and destroyed by the vandals as also the office of the bilingual Hindi-Urdu publication ‘Aap ki Taaqat’ that stands for communal amity and promotes the Ganga-Jumna Tehzeeb, and the concept ‘Hindi Urdu do Behen’. The office of the aforesaid newspaper is in the first floor of the aforesaid Masjid.  The editor of the publication, Manzar Mehdi, is President of the Urdu Press Association and the publication attracts 80 per cent advertisement support from the Hindu community. The Masjid every year welcomes the Durga goddess processionists and other processions with floral tributes. The mosque that dates back to 1790 A.D. has always practised and preached communal harmony.

 

What has hurt Mr. Mehdi most is the ambivalence of the national media (except the Hindustan daily which published the true facts) and he has alleged that the media has not seen it as an attack on the freedom of the press. “Why is the media deserting its own, especially a small publication that has become a symbol of intercommunity harmony?” asked Mr. Mehdi.

 

It is alleged in the letter that the lock of the Masjid was broken, and the Masjid looted and gutted down. The newspaper Aap Ki Taaqat’s office located on the top floor of the Masjid was also not spared, and it has been vandalized. Books were trampled upon and torn, the computer was destroyed.

 

On receipt of the aforesaid letter from Ms. Teesta Setalvad, I have today appointed a one man committee of Mr. Sheetla Singh, Member of the Press Council of India and a very senior journalist who is also editor of Jan Morcha of Faizabad to enquire into this complaint and submit his report at the earliest. I have spoken to Mr. Sheetla Singh and Ms. Teesta Setalvad on telephone.

 

If the allegations in the letter of Ms. Setalvad are correct it is a serious criminal offence which tends to disrupt the secular framework of our Constitution and society, and deserves condemnation and harsh punishment.

 

Journalist, family murdered; hand of mining mafia suspected


       Feb 19, 2012, Mahim Pratap Singh, Hindu         

Chandrika Rai had been writing consistently against illegal racket

The brutal murder of a senior journalist and his entire family on Saturday night in Madhya Pradesh‘s Umaria distict, over 450 km from here, has sent shockwaves across the State with fingers being pointed at the illegal coal mining mafia active in the region.

Journalist Chandrika Rai (42), his wife Durga (40) and their two teenage children — son Jalaj (19) and daughter Nisha (17) — were murdered using a sharp object at their residence, police said. The bodies were found in four separate rooms.

Mr. Rai was a freelance journalist who contributed regularly to the Hindi daily Navbharat and English daily The Hitavada. He had been writing consistently against the illegal coal mining in the region. He had written a series of articles alleging the involvement of a local BJP leader in illegal mining.

The district is known for the Umaria coalfield under the control of the South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. However, illegal coal mining is also rampant in the region.

“The local illegal mining mafia has resorted to this horrific crime to silence the power of his pen,” said Congress MLA and leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Ajay Singh. “The BJP government gives open protection to the local mining mafia. Recently Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and some of his Ministers were seen sharing the stage with wanted criminals. In such a situation, criminals have no fear of the law and commit such mind-numbing crimes with impunity whenever their interests are harmed.”

The crime came to light when Mr. Rai’s brother broke open the door on Saturday evening after he became suspicious on seeing it locked from the outside the entire day.

Linked to abduction?

The Umaria police believe the murders could also be linked to the kidnap of the seven-year-old son of a government official for ransom on Wednesday. He was rescued by the police on Thursday.

“DGP Raut visited the crime scene on Sunday and has ordered an STF probe,” Umaria SP Manohar Singh Jamara told The Hindu. “He also spoke to journalists here and assured them that the criminals would be brought to book as soon as possible. We have constituted a team to look into the crime and assist the STF which will arrive here tomorrow [Monday].”
Land dispute

Another angle the police are investigating relates to a land dispute involving Mr. Rai and another local individual.

 

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