A Deserved Whack to Aditya Sinha

published on March 2, 2010

Dear Mr Adhitya Sinha,

Editor-in-Chief

The New Indian Express.

Your editorial on the 27th Feb.was painful. Because I thought that at least the NIE would stand to be counted and not jump into the bandwagon of the so called secularists.Today it seems that bashing the Hindus and tolerating anything and everything that the Muslims do is secularism. . I belong to the old school of thought that believed in the independence of the Fourth Estate.I started reading the Indian Express (there was only one) in the days when Frank Morias was its Editor. During the Emergency under the stewardship of Goenka again this was the paper which stood up against Indira Gandhi. The Fourth Estate was and is a pillar of democracy. Even that I find has fallen and given way to a pseudo secularism. It is not my intention to go into that but to bring to your notice the hurt I feel in the episode of Husain the painter.

Let us not forget that he is a fugitive of law. His age is immaterial. Already in 1996 he painted goddess Sarswati in the nude. When there were protests he tendered an apology .But the ‘elite secularists’ faulted him for the apology. Since then he has allowed his perversion to run amuck on his canvass. Freedom of expression does not give the right of hurting the religious sentiments of the majority. What if Husain paints Mary in the nude? Why is his artistic freedom contained only to the Hindu gods and goddesses? Let him try and paint Mohammad’s wives/daughters and watch the effect of freedom of expression of the artist.

You may point at the paintings and frescos in the temples and in Konark and Khajhuraho. But these had a different background and were in no way offensive as the paintings of Husain. Nudity has been caught in the canvas by many painters but Husain has a hidden motive-to hurt. He sketched Hitler in the nude and stated that he spited him and hence he drew him nake. Will he even dare to paint Mother Theresa in a kanjeepuram saree all decked up? Signs and symbols do convey meaning. The yoni and the phallus are symbols of life –Siva and Shakti. Take it out of context into the streets –it becomes vulgar.

The background of Husain’s paintings cannot be overlooked. At a time when religious communalism is at a high pitch such paintings only aggravate the religious disharmony. Time and again Husain has used his brush as a Jihadi would use his weapons-for blood letting.

What is the great honor conferred on him by Qatar -its citizenship? You will be more knowledgeable about Qatar ’s tolerance and its totalitarian regime. Is it an honor to be conferred citizenship by that country No it is only to spite India and to shelter an Islamic fugitive of a painter.

You did not hesitate to blame the thugs of the Sangh parivar for this exile of the venerable artist Husain.‘The kind of fascist intolerance they display to any view point or perspective that does not square with theirs makes a mockery of democracy’.You had also pointed out at the Ram Sena. Look today at the secularism of the Muslims in Shimoga-Karnataka –they are on a rampage because of Taslima Nasreen’s article against the tradition of burqa. Will your paper come out with a stinging editorial supporting Taslima’s freedom of expression and condemning the intolerance of the Muslims there? No, you will not I am certain-that much for the secularism of the media. Vandalising paintings of Husain becomes the handiwork of thugs-but killing innocents and painting our streets with the blood and tears of ordinary people through the Islamic Jihadis is what? Does our democracy square up with the Jedahi’s concept and ideology? Why is the media- so soft on Islamic terror-in India and across the globe? No, terror knows no religion will be the hollow voices heard from the ivory towers wherein the secularists live and the media lends its sound/print byes to drum up this hollowness. Lives lost of the innocent who go about their daily business is not condemned in such stringent language as that you have reserved for the ‘thugs’ of the Sangh parivar. Why this unreasonable, irrational and unrestricted condemnation. Freedom of expression is no doubt precious but freedom to live is in fact the highest of all Freedoms .When people are brutally gunned down you have not condemned the blood thirsty thugs of a particular religious ideology .Is it to prove your secular credentials? .So blame the government for not providing security for this artist who even at the age of 95 cannot resist from perversion, sadism and voyeurism.

Why this so tolerant Qatar and all the other Islamic countries not offering citizenship to Taslima? Why is she hunted and hounded? Tell me about freedom of expression and what an embarrassment to India that its celebrated painter is in exile. So what is the solution-withdraw all the cases-protect his paintings and give security to the man who with his brush is a jehadi. Why can’t he stop hurting the Hindus and their feelings? Why can’t he apologize for his erotic and blasphemous paintings of the Hindu gods and goddesses? If he loves India and misses it then he has to embrace all that is Indian-has to respect all its citizens and in the present context contribute his mite through paintings to create harmony and not indulge in just the opposite. Husain is like any other citizen and his freedom is not unrestricted.

Dan Brown’s book ‘Da Vinci code’ was found offensive-Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verse’ was banned and a fatwa given out-the Danish cartoonist too is under the threat of a fatwa. This is the Islamic tradition from which Husain must be viewed. Men and women of Fine Arts have unrestricted freedom of expression only in the realm of Hindus and Hinduism. But when it comes to other religions and its icons their freedom of expression evaporates.

Voices of dissent need also to be heeded in a democracy and the Fourth Estate should continue to be a pillar of democracy-towards that I fervently wish.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja

Vadodara

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