Saturday, May 26, 2007

INDIA'S SHAME : Indian Express : MSU V-C seals Fine Arts dept


Express News Service

Vadodara, May 11: Taking moral policing to a new level, Vice-Chancellor of the prestigious Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Manoj Soni, today ordered the fine arts department to be sealed after defiant students put up an exhibition of Indian erotica to protest the arrest of one of their fellow classmates on Wednesday. The fine arts department, known the world over as a cradle for art expression, has never seen interference from any quarters. This is the first time in its 55 years of existence that it finds the BJP and VHP moral police brigade telling it what to do.

Vice-Chancellor Manoj Soni, living up to his reputation as an RSS stooge, took the decision to seal the department after BJP municipal councillors complained about the erotica exhibition. On Wednesday, the BJP and VHP activists roughed up Chandramohan, a fine arts student, as they found his exam works put on display, objectionable. Chandramohan was later arrested by police.

Marking a “black friday” in M S University’s history, the V-C sealed the Fine Arts department’s Regional Documentation Centre, and joined the saffron brigade in removing the exhibition comprising sculptures and photos.

After gagging the faculty, Soni himself ducked all criticism and questions raised about his action by remaining confined to his cabin and not taking any calls.

MSU’s Chancellor Mrinalinini Devi Puar, grand daughter of Sir Sayaji Rao Gaekwad who founded the university, said she was out of town and could not intervene without knowing the facts.

On Friday, instead of students, teachers and MSU senate members, it was BJP councillors and senate members (owing to their saffron affiliations) were the ones who called the shots both at MSU main office and Fine Arts department. Meanwhile, Chandramohan continued to be in judicial custody for the third consecutive day, with no one officially coming to his aid from MSU. Additional Senior Civil Judge M J Parashar on Friday deferred the decision on his bail till Monday in a hearing held in Vadodara local court, where Chandramohan is facing serious offences registered by BJP leader Niraj Jain.

Fresh trouble began on Friday when Fine Arts students were putting up an art exhibition on Indian art erotica around 4.30 pm.

“We are seeing people affiliated to certain political ideology, entering the campus and imposing their narrow viewpoint without knowing that the erotica/shringara/copulation as a part of the nava-rasas exist in traditional practices,” said the Fine Arts student exhibition note. Sculptures, copies of erotica art in the department, photographs of erotica art from Khajuraho and from Geet Govinda were put up by the students.

The news of the art exhibition had BJP councillors like Girish Parekh, Kishen Sheth, Ashok Pandya, Balu Shukla, Kishen Sheth and others trooping down into the University, but before that they had a meeting with the MSU V-C. While abuses were being hurled at the students and female lecturers by BJP councilors, MSU authorities ordered the removal of exhibition, which Shivaji Panikkar, incharge fine arts dean refused, asking for orders in writing.

“We have received representations from several organisations and also society, which has requested us to intervene. It’s a matter of prestige for MSU and Vadodara,” said MSU pro V-C S M Joshi, who with university engineer N N Ojha, syndicate members Mukesh Pandya, S K Agrawal, technology faculty dean Bhuvan Parekh personally removed exhibits and sealed the department.

In a late night development Panikkar was suspended from all the positions with immediate effect for three months. The suspension will be in effect till an inquiry committee, which is yet to be formed does not complete its inquiry, said the notice which was pasted at his residence around 10 pm on Friday. He has been also directed not to enter the campus.

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