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May 10, 2007 at 10:00pm IST

Students held for 'obscene' paintings

Vadodara: After M F Husain, it seems of Art are under attack form the moral police.

Two students of the Fine Arts Faculty Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara were arrested by the police because their paintings, which were meant for a college project were found objectionable and allegedly hurt sentiments.

On Wednesday, VHP and BJP activists damaged the paintings in the hall where they were on display, claiming they were offensive.

Students of the university have been protesting voicing one sentiment that the activists vandalised their exhibition. They are also protesting against the arrest.

"The attack was pre-planned. It wasn't just the paintings it was part of our annual evaluation. We are shocked over this. Students should be allowed to express themselves through the painting medium,” says a student, Sushma Raghav.

Even though the Fine Arts faculty members have rallied behind the arrested students, the University is lying low for the moment.

"The university did not file an FIR. We are with the students. It was a private exhibition and not meant for outsiders in the first place. The BJP has really no right to come and disrupt it,” says In Charge Dean, MSU Fine Arts Faculty, Shivji Panikkar.

But BJP leader Niraj Jain is not in the least apologetic claiming to have the support of Christian organisations as well. He has threatened "action" against the university in no uncertain terms.

“The students should be thrown out of the university and the Dean also. This is something which is unacceptable,” says Jain.

The two students will be in judicial custody till Friday. With a UP court out to get Husain for his allegedly obscene works, these arrests in Vadodara are bound to whip up larger debates around moral policing and artists' freedom of expression.

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