Art exhibition on Aurangzeb cancelled

7 03 2008

Aurangzeb exhibition controversy

Chennai: An art exhibition on the life of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb has run into rough weather following objections from some Muslim individuals to two pictures showing demolition of the Somnath Temple in Gujarat on the ground that they would disturb peace in Tamil Nadu.

A Hindu group threatened to stage a demonstration if the exhibition was cancelled. The Lalit Kala Academy, where the exhibition is on till March 9, is considering cancelling the show.

R M Palaniappan, regional secretary, Lalit Kala Academy said that two persons had submitted written complaints saying a portrait, depicting the demolition of the temple in Gujarat, following the order of Aurangazeb, could lead to communal hatred.

He said, “I have informed the headquarters at Delhi and are waiting further orders .” Hindu Munnani founder leader Rama Gopalan said, “Visitors have the right to know the truth. If the exhibition is cancelled, we will stage a demonstration,” he said. — Agencies

Chennai cops shut down Lalit Kala Akademi show on Aurangzeb

An art show at the prestigious Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) here curated by journalist Francois Gautier was at the receiving end of moral policing when an exhibition on Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was shut down.

Stating that it had received three complaints that the show would disturb communal harmony, police Thursday night burst into the exhibition, shut it down forcibly, took into custody three women associated with the hosting of the exhibition and seized some of the works on display.

The exhibition of 40 paintings, including exceptional miniatures by noted Indian artists, gathered together by Gautier’s Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT) were on show at the LKA from March 3.

The show included farhans (edicts issued by Aurangzeb) from the Bikaner museum and other material on Aurangzeb. It also contained two pictures depicting Aurangzeb’s army destroying the Somnath temple in Gujarat and the Kesava Rai temple in Mathura.

The organisers said they had the right to freedom of expression and the right to exhibit a show that had travelled all over India.

LKA regional secretary R.M. Palaniappan told the media he “should have screened the exhibits more carefully”.

Joint Commissioner of Police P. Balasubramanian later told the media: “We feared it might create a law and order problem.”

The three women from FACT, Saraswathi (65), Vijayalakshmi (62) and Malathi (47), were picked up from the show at about 7.30 p.m. and taken to the police station, where they were held for nearly an hour without being allowed to contact their families or any lawyer.

“The police were rude to us, they asked us whether we were terrorists”, Saraswathi told the media. The women were later released.

Gautier too told the media police refused to protect the exhibition. “The idea was to show how different the history of India would have been if Dara Shikho, emperor Shajahan’s elder son and preferred heir, had become ruler of India,” he said as he went to the police and explained that his intentions were not to spread any social disharmony, “only to bring history to the people”.

The exhibition had come to after showing in Delhi and Pune and was to go on till March 9.

Aurangzeb expo abruptly closed
Friday March 7 2008 08:42 IST

G Babu Jayakumar (NEW Indian Express)

CHENNAI: An ‘artistic exhibition on Aurangzeb’ at the Lalit Kala Akademi was closed on Thursday, four days after it opened, reportedly after it assumed political overtones.

The Akademi asked the show’s organisers to vacate the hall though it was booked till March 9. On Thursday morning, Assistant Commissioner of Police K N Murali and the regional secretary of Lalit Kala Akademi, R M Palaniappan, who wanted to seal the doors to the show, were forced to retreat as a phalanx of politicians from Hindu groups and Janata Party leader V S Chandralekha arrived.

The police and Akademi official feared that two paintings on display could incite communal passions. Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, who visited the exhibition, called it ‘a bunkum’. He said it was ‘cooked up history’ and he could challenge the authenticity of documents on display.

He confronted Chandraleka and the other volunteers of Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT), who had put together a series of documents and paintings under the title ‘Aurangzeb as he was according to Moghul records’, questioning them on the necessity of organising the show.

Ramagopalan and his followers refused to remove the two ‘potentially controversial’ paintings – one on the demolition of the Saranath temple in Gujarat in 1669 and the other having vignettes of the destruction of Keshava Rai temple at Mathura (1669) and the building of a mosque – but offered to put a veil over them.

Palaniappan said he received a written complaint from an advocate Jainauddin, who described the exhibits as ‘objectionable’. He said several people had also called him to express their displeasure.

Admitting that he had failed to screen the exhibits before the display, Palaniappan said he had the powers to call off an exhibition any time. Francois Gautier, a Delhi-based French journalist who had planned the show, told this website’s newspaper that police refused to provide protection.

Aurangzeb exhibits at Lalit Kala Academy kick up row
Chennai | Thursday, Mar 6 2008 IST (Net India 123)

An art exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi here, depicting the life history of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb has run into a controversy following opposition by some Muslim outfits to some of the portraits and Hindu organisations coming to its defence by opposing the cancellation demand. Tight police security had been deployed at the premises after Muslim organisations took up cudgels against some of the portraits claiming that it would disturb peace in the State and demanded that the expo should be cancelled. Justifying the portraits, a Hindu outfit opposed any move for cancelling the show contending that “only Historical facts” were on display. The Akademy’s Regional Secretary R M Palaniappan told reporters that three people, including two Muslims had raised objections to a photo that showed demolition of the Somnath Temple in Gujarat by Muslim forces, following an order by Aurangazeb. They also submitted a written complaint that this picture could hurt the sentiments of Hindus and would result in communal hatred. The issue has been referred to the Akademi headquarters at New Delhi, he added. To a question, he said though he had enough powers to cancel the show, he was awaiting orders from the headquarters. “I cannot allow such controversies in a government building,” he added. Meanwhile, ‘Hindu Munnani’ leader Rama Gopalan visited the Akademi and said there was no distortion of facts in the pictures. He also threatened to launch an agitation if the exhibition was cancelled.

— (UNI) — 06MS42.xml

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