Gujarat: ABVP members barge into MSU campus, vandalise property over ‘objectionable’ artwork

As of May 6, a nine-member fact-finding committee was constituted to "investigate the matter of exhibition held at the faculty of fine arts on May 5, and submit its report after finding the facts of the same".

Hyderabad: Students and faculty of the fine arts department of Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) were allegedly harassed and manhandled by people affiliated with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) over artwork on display as part of the student’s final examinations on May 5 in Vadodara, Gujarat.

ABVP and other right-wing outfits staged a protest on the campus of MSU claiming that Hindu gods and goddesses were depicted in an objectionable manner in some of the artworks made by the students.

The students of MSU fine arts had their artwork on display as part of their final jury presentation. The submissions involved abstract messages around women’s social issues along with cutouts of Indian gods and goddesses.

MS Education Academy

The protest turned violent when the right-wing mob allegedly attempted to break into the staff room of the department of painting and vandalised property while shouting incendiary slogans, videos of which surfaced on social media. The infamous slogan, ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko…’ was chanted as well.

“We witnessed a large and violent mob led by a senate member. When the students that were on campus waiting for their vivas tried to prevent them from doing so, we were also manhandled. Despite all this, being unable to break into the department staff room, the mob then broke into the dean’s office where they vandalized public property and violated the staff as well,” a student from the university, who wished to remain unnamed, told Siasat.com.

Meanwhile, a student affiliated with ABVP, Nishit Varotariya, while claiming that the artwork was a conspiracy against Hindus, in an interview to Our Vadodora said, “The narrative they have set goes against Hindu gods and goddesses as it depicts them in obscene ways. This is unacceptable in a land with such revered culture. It is the land of the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.”

However, another student of MSU fine arts, who was present on-site when the incident took place said that the members of the right-wing organisation barged into the campus with artwork that wasn’t even part of their display.

“The said five works were then circulated around all media platforms and linked to the display here. The goons then vandalised the premise demanding to ‘find’ these works that hurt their religious sentiments,” he stated.

Personnel of Sayajigunj police station rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control after university staff came face to face with the protestors.

The dean of the faculty, Dr Jayaram Poduval, denied the allegation, while the local police too had said that they did not find any objectionable artworks as claimed by protesters.

As of May 6, a nine-member fact-finding committee to “investigate the matter of exhibition held at the faculty of fine arts on May 5, and submit its report after finding the facts of the same” was constituted by MSU Vice-Chancellor Dr Vijay Kumar Srivastava.

“Since our Dean and various senior teachers, as well as the head of the department, have been physically threatened by this violent mob. We are yet to hear from them after it was declared that the Faculty will remain shut for the next three days on May 5 and are awaiting further news,” added the student, who wished to remain unnamed.

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