Amid CAA Unrest, 3 Artworks Shut, 4 Musicians Arrested at Goa SAF

A complainant alleged that the music band insulted the Hindu religion by mixing chanting of ‘Om’ & abusive language.

2 min read
A complainant alleged that the music band insulted the Hindu religion by mixing chanting of ‘Om’ and abusive language.

The citizenship law over which protests have erupted across the country has cast a shadow on the Serendipity Arts Festival with an exhibition featuring artworks related to the new-enacted legislation as well as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) “temporarily sealed” on Wednesday, 18 December.

On being reopened a few hours later, three of the 27 artworks in the exhibition titled “Look Outside This House,” curated by leading Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty as part of the visual arts segment of the festival were found to be either removed, non-functional, or shut.

While the Serendipity Arts Foundation that organises the annual multi-disciplinary festival cited “technical glitch” as the reason, Shetty said he felt “troubled and pained at the situation we have come to,” and added that he stood by “each piece of work in the show”.

‘Allow Free Speech at Art Spaces’

One of the videos is that of ‘Miyah poets’ of Assam which talks of violence and discrimination and the alleged threat of statelessness due to the country’s changing socio-political climate.

The second one invited viewers to write on wall-sized canvases with ink created out of carbon in the air and featured some anti-CAB/NRC scribbles three days into the festival.

The third video, which was supposed to showcase sensor fitted goggles for the blind, carried the caption, “Due to the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Northeast, we could not procure the goggles for the blind in time for this show.”

“As far as the show I curated is concerned, why a caption saying an artwork could not reach on time for the exhibition due to transportation delays due to CAA protests in the Northeast should be a problem. Or why a few by chance scribbles on a white wall about the CAA/NRC by exhibition visitors using the ecologically sustained carbon ink pens that were on display or two poems of lament about the NRC and politics about immigration by poor men who have lost their family members to violence — should have upset / disturbed / frightened people is difficult to accept,” a statement quoted him as saying.

“Art spaces should be allowed to function freely and openly and must allow for free speech,” Shetty added.

The foundation was not available for comment when asked whether and when the works will be made available for viewing again.

Four members of the music band Dastaan who performed at the festival on 17 December were arrested by Goa Police on 18 December for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

Band members Sumant Balakrishnan, Anirban Ghosh, Shiva Pathak and Nirmala Ravindera, were arrested under section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code, following a complaint by Venkat Krishna Kunduru, said a senior police official.

The band insulted the Hindu religion by mixing chanting of ‘Om’ and abusive language, the complainant alleged.

All four were released on bail bonds of Rs 20,000 each, the police officer added.

The Serendipity Arts Festival will continue till 22 December.

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