The Gujarat Police on Monday filed a case against a student of fine arts at Vadodara’s Maharaja Sayajirao University for allegedly depicting Hindu deities in an objectionable manner in an art installation, PTI reported.
On May 5, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad held a protest at the university’s Faculty of Fine Arts where an art exhibition was slated to take place.
One of the artworks used clippings of newspaper reports about rape to create cutouts of gods and goddesses. Another design was a photo collage, in which protestors alleged that the Ashoka pillar had been positioned in an obscene manner, according to The Indian Express.
A complaint against a student of the university was filed by ABVP member Jayvirsinh Raulji. Based on the complaint, the Sayajigunj police station in Vadodara filed a first information report, Police Inspector RG Jadeja said.
The case has been filed under Sections 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 298 (uttering words with intent to hurt religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code. However, the student has not been arrested as of now, Jadeja said.
The first information report said that the student, when questioned about the artworks, admitted to having made them, and said that he would make more of them in future.
However, Jayaram Poduval, the dean of the university, denied that the artworks in question were part of the exhibition that was slated to be held at the university.
“We do not know where these frames have come from,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “They were not part of our evaluation submissions…They have been planted here and this protest is a conspiracy against the faculty.”
On May 5, the protestors alleged that the two artworks were “distasteful and hurtful to religious sentiments”. They accused the dean of breaking a resolution from 2007, which was passed after a similar incident involving a university student.
“We are against disrespecting any religion,” Niraj Jain, a member of the Hindu Jagran Manch, said. “... If they really have talent and artistic minds, they should come up with something more interesting rather than tainting the image of the university time and again.”
In 2007, Jain had filed a complaint against another student from the university, Srilamanthula Chandramohan, for allegedly objectionable artworks that he had made. Following protests against the artworks, the university had decided to withhold his evaluation, The Indian Express reported. The university has still not awarded him his master’s degree.
A first information report had been filed at the time against Chandramohan under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code. The case is still pending.
In February 2018, Chandramohan had allegedly set fire to the university vice-chancellor’s office. He was arrested and later granted bail.
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