Bloggers speak: Chennai cops shut down Lalit Kala Akademi

7 03 2008


When Thoughts Cease

A tale of two cities (and media hypocrisy)

Incident 1:
May 9, 2007.

Suspected Hindu right-wingers attack an internal exhibition of paintings at MS University. Artist Chandramohan arrested.

Reaction: The Left-liberal media begins to froth at its mouth. Protests happen all over the place (or at least we are made to believe so by the media). The incident is given wide coverage in all newspapers. Talk shows debate the issue endlessly. SMS Surveys, phone-in shows, internet polls, editorials and Sunday columnists (“intellectuals”) condemn the incident. Phrases such as “Hindu fundamentalists”, “Hindutva fascists” and “Saffron brigade” are bandied about to describe the attackers. The attack is an attack on cultural freedom say some. Some say it’s moral policing.

The media really gave it to those “fascists”, didn’t they? Wham! Bham! Pow! Left, right and center. They even got the artist released from jail and promptly got his perspective on the brouhaha (we cover all aspects of the issue you see).

Atanu Dey on India’s Development

Truth would have a hard time prevailing in a nation of people cowed down from fear and threat of violence. A recent example of violence shutting out an attempt at finding the truth occurred in Chennai. A bunch of people shut down an exhibition which revealed Aurangzeb to be a tyrant. The police were also involved in the vandalism. The state was involved in suppressing the expression of a viewpoint that some considered unpalatable. Most of the newspapers did not report this.

Isn’t it true that India’s motto basically pokes fun at India’s public actions?

Monologue of a Nomad

I am amazed why should these Muslim organizations join issues here? Why are they feeling obliged towards Aurangzeb? It is a well know fact that among many Hindus the name of Aurangzeb evokes the same passionate hatred as do the names of Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad of Ghori. It was Aurangzeb who ordered all temples destroyed, among them the Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the most sacred places of Hinduism, and had mosques built on a number of cleared temple sites. Other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction, with mosques built on them.

FACT exhibition vandalized: Has Aurangzeb reincarnated in form of police?

mar 8th, 2008

actually, aurangazeb = sonia and karunanidhi. the police are just their underlings.

Muslim Goondaism shall not pass!

March 8, 2008

Some muslim miscreant bent on hiding the truth managed to get our pseudo secular govt cancel the expo in Chennai. You can be rest assured none of the pseudo secular NGOs will call for freedom of expression now. They will be whacked by the Muslim goondas.

But here are the some of the paintings and sketches about his rule as well as farhans, original edicts by Aurangzeb, preserved at the Bikaner Museum. (Aurangzeb as he was according to Mughal Records):
http://www.fact- Aurangazebgaller y.php

Another report mentions that the show was cancelled following some objections but does not mention that three ladies were arrested (It cryptically refers to four people).

Overall the Indian media and intellegentsia has been conspicuous by their silence on the matter.

Will Ms Arundhati Roy, esteemed Shabana Azmi and all other champions of free speech please stand up and defend the right of Francois Gautier to continue with this exhibition?

The super-secular Chindu could only notice a few visitors raising a protest against two paintings. It gives you the impression that everything went so peacefully. Contrast this with the article from The Statesman.

Philistines brush aside paint of history

NT Bureau | Fri, 07 Mar, 2008 , 02:41 PM

History, in normal course, is the stuff of academic tomes. But these days, history, and the depiction of it through an artistic medium, is newspaper headlines.
All through last week, the national media and the self-appointed custodians of free speech were aghast at the protest from a large section of people over the portrayal of Rajputs in Jodha Akbar, a highly opinionated and patently fictionalised celluloid offering on the Mughal king Akbar and one of his numerous wives, Jodha.
The usual catchphrases of ‘freedom of expression’, ‘creative licence’ were bandied about with gay indignation.

VHP condemns police action at FACT exhibition

Chennai, Mar 6: Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) International Working President S Vedantam today condemned the ‘unruly and undemocratic behaviour’ of police at the exhibition organised by Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT) on the topic ”Aurangazeb as he was according to moghol records” at Lalith Kala Academy here….

Chennai cops shut down Lalit Kala Akademi show on Aurangzeb

March 7th, 2008 – 1:44 pm ICT by admin
(Thai Indian News)
Chennai, March 7 (IANS) 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 Chennai 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 Chennai after showing in Delhi and Pune and was to go on till March 9.

Art exhibition on Aurangazeb cancelled

Staff Reporter (The HINDU)

Chennai: An art exhibition on the life of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in the city was closed down on Thursday following protests by a section of visitors who objected to the “communal nature” of some of the exhibits. The exhibition was inaugurated on Monday and was scheduled to be open till Sunday. However, some visitors raised a protest against two paintings showing demolition of temples in Somnath and Mathura.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Triplicane) M. Ramasubramani said the management of Lalit Kala Akademi, where the event was being held, told the exhibition organisers ‘Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism’ to close down as they apprehended law and order problems. The Foundation is run by Delhi-based French journalist Francois Gautier. In a statement here, Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali welcomed the cancellation of the exhibition in view of its communal content. He added that the exhibition would unnecessarily create communal disharmony in a State reputed for its secularism.

Ire, indifference after closure of ‘objectionable exhibition’

New Kerala

Chennai, March 7 : Anger and indifference are the two main reactions expressed here Friday following Thursday’s closure of an “objectionable exhibition” organised by French journalist and political commentator Francois Gautier at the Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA).

The exhibition claimed to “expose the misdeeds against Hinduism during the Mughal period”.

Following Muslim protests, the exhibition of paintings and reproductions of Arabic and Persian documents alluding to destruction of Hindu shrines at the LKA here since Monday was closed down to “prevent a law and order situation”.

“We had no other option but to close it down. Some Muslims objected to it citing wrong inferences drawn from Arabic texts which could not be independently deciphered by anyone here,” Rm Palaniappan, the secretary of the Chennai LKA told IANS.

“We requested the removal of some objectionable materials – including a few illustrations of temples being pulled down during the era of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb – thrice as their display is against our rules.

“Our facility is purely meant for showcasing contemporary art. When the representatives of Francois Gautier refused to heed our requests, we had no other option but to close it down after a police complaint.

“Since we wanted to prevent a law and order situation here developing out of an objectionable exhibition, we had to pull the shutters down,” Palaniappan said.

A furious Hindu Front leader Rama Gopalan has a different version.

“The incident makes it clear that we are being prevented from publicly exhibiting historically documented facts. The exhibition of Gautier – which had been shown successfully elsewhere in India earlier – was vandalised by Islamic goons and closed down by the LKA officials with police protection to pander to the crude tastes of the minority community.

“If persons like M.F. Hussain can be allowed to openly denigrate Hindu deities in the name or art in similar institutions in India, can’t an impartial foreign commentator be permitted to depict facts per se? In a nutshell, this is simple and straight fascism,” Gopalan told IANS.

“The press has twisted facts to fit into a pattern that suits saffron apologists,” said Commissioner of Police Nanchil Kumaran.

Director General of Police P. Rajendiran said: “Notwithstanding what my colleague (Kumaran) said, the simple fact is that a law and order situation has been averted. No news, in our opinion, is good news.”

Artists view the matter differently.

“It is a very sad thing to happen. Art is something where there is total freedom of expression. Why are they making religion such a big issue? It is totally unfair.

“There is nothing obscene in exhibiting Mughal paintings. Look at the west, which has given artists complete freedom. If such things happen in a democratic country like ours, what can you say,” said leading contemporary artist Kanchan Chander.

“There have been protests. We protested against politicians who targeted M.F. Husain branding his works anti-national, but nothing really came of them. I am a Hindu, but I respect every religion,” Chander added.

Gautier was unavailable for comment.


No room for “FACTS” in Dravidian Land!

FACTS ABOUT THE FACT – Exhibition on Aurangazeb!
(HJS website)
FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) had organized an Exhibition of Paintings under the theme “Aurangazeb ‘as he was’ According to Moghol Records” in Chennai from the 3rd of March to 9th of March, 2008. The venue of the Exhibition was “Lalit Kala Academy” (National Academy of Art), Greams Road, Chennai.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Mr.Vittal, Former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Mr.B.Raman Former Additional Secretary of UOI & RAW Official and Mr.S.Gurumurthy, Columnist, on the 3rd of March at 5 pm. The inauguration was attended by about 100 people. Prior to the inauguration, a Press Meet was also conducted.

From the next morning onwards, visitors started coming and the numbers gradually increased towards the evening. On Wednesday the 5th, a group of Muslims (around 15 people) visited and argued with the volunteers of the exhibition about the authenticity of the paintings and the historical information. The evening news paper “News Today” carried a report about the inauguration of the exhibition.

Art exhibition in city runs into rough weather

Chennai online
Chennai, Mar 6: An art exhibition, showcasing the life of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb has run into rough weather here following objections from some Muslim individuals against some portraits, claiming that the pictures would ‘disturb the peace’ in Tamil Nadu.

The Lalit Kala Academy, where the exhibition is on till March 9, is even considering cancelling the show.

R M Palaniappan, Regional Secretary, Lalit Kala Academy, told reporters that two persons had submitted written complaints, stating that a portrait, depicting the demolition of the Somnath Temple in Gujarat, following the order of Aurangazeb, could lead to communal hatred.

“Since it came to my attention only yesterday, I have informed the headquarters at Delhi and are waiting further orders from them,” Palanippan said.

To a query, he said that though he had the discretionary powers to cancel the show, he was still awaiting orders from the headquarters.

Meanwhile, Hindu Munnani founder leader RamaGopalan today visited the gallery and saw the pictures.

Later, speaking to reporters, he said it was in no way a distortion of facts. “Visitors (to the exhibition) have the right to know the truth. If the exhibition is cancelled, we will stage a demonstration the Lalit Kala Academy”, he said.

Malathy, a ‘volunteer’ with FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) the organisers, told that they wanted to put on show just the historical facts about Aurangazeb, aimed at reaching school children.

Police personnel have been posted at the academy premises as a precautionary measure. – Agencies

Published: Friday, March 07, 2008

‘Aurangzeb expo aimed at promoting enmity’


Welcoming the closing down of an exhibition on Mughal emperor Aurangzeb at the Lalit Kala Akademi in Chennai, Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali on Friday alleged that the expo was organised to promote enmity among various groups and vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of co-existence of religions in Tamil Nadu.

“The exhibition was a complete diatribe against Aurangzeb, organised by a Muslim-hating columnist, totally biased and one-sided in its presentation and calculated to stir up feelings of ill-will and animosity towards the minority community for the alleged acts and omissions of a ruler who lived centuries ago,” he alleged in a statement.

Claiming that the expo sought to portray the emperor as an ‘iconoclast, dictator, bigot and ruthless ruler’, he said the paintings seemed to dwell only on Aurangzeb’s alleged misdeeds and not a word about his many contributions of lands and grants to Hindu temples. The monarch’s acts were presented torn out of their historical context, he claimed.

He said there was no doubt that all right thinking people interested in the promotion of communal harmony, secularism and national integration would welcome the decision of the police to close down such an ‘inflammatory and prejudiced’ exhibition. This would go a long way in preventing untoward incidents and maintain brotherhood and respect for each other’s religion, he added.

On Thursday, the exhibition was abruptly closed down in the wake of some Muslim outfits and Hindu organisations failing to see eye to eye on some of the portraits on display and the police fearing that it could whip up communal passions. The Prince of Arcot, who visited the exhibition, had expressed displeasure over the paintings. UNI

Controversy puts an end to Aurangzeb exhibition


March 07, 2008 11:55 IST
Last Updated: March 07, 2008 14:01 IST

Curtains came down abruptly on an exhibition, depicting the life history of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, at the Lalit Kala Akademi in Chennai in the wake of some Muslim outfits and Hindu organisations failing to see eye to eye on some of the portraits on display.

Trouble started when some Muslim organisations and Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali took up cudgels against some portraits, claiming it would disturb peace in the state and demanded the expo ‘Aurangzeb as he was according to Mughal records’ be cancelled.

Jumping to the defence of the exhibition of paintings by French artist Francois Gautier, a few Hindu outfits opposed any move to cancel the show, contending that ‘only historical facts’ were on display.

Police provided tight security on the premises, with the two groups unrelenting.

Fearing that the exhibition could whip up communal passions, the city police and Akademi regional secretary R M Palaniappan ended the expo, which began fours days ago, abruptly, three days ahead of schedule.

Police also detained three women associated with the exhibition — Saraswathi (65), Dr Vijayalakshmi (62) and Malathi (47) — for half an hour for inquiry.

Hindu Munnani leader Rama Gopalan and Vishwa Hindu Parishad working president S Vedantam condemned the police action at the exhibition, organised by the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism. UNI



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