Rising intolerance is destroying India: full text of statement by 350+ artists

Released by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust

The artist community of India stands in firm solidarity with the actions of our writers who have relinquished awards and positions, and spoken up in protest against the alarming rise of intolerance in the country. We condemn and mourn the murders of M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, rationalists and free thinkers whose voices have been silenced by rightwing dogmatists but whose ‘presence’ must ignite our resistance to the conditions of hate being generated around us.

We will never forget the battle we fought for our pre-eminent artist M.F. Husain who was hounded out of the country and died in exile. We remember the rightwing invasion and dismantling of freedoms in one of the country’s best known art schools in Baroda. We witness the present government’s appointment of grossly unqualified persons to the FTII Society and its disregard of the ongoing strike by the students of this leading Institute. We see a writer like Perumal Murugan being intimidated into declaring his death as a writer, a matter of dire shame in any society.

While the Prime Minister of the country has been conspicuously reticent in his response to the recent events, the reactions of BJP ministers in his government reveal their ignorance and prejudice. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture, has made abhorrent comments about mob lynching and murder. His remarks suggesting that writers should stop writing to prove their point are alarming – empowered as he is to take policy decisions in the domain of culture. Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Information & Broadcasting, has mocked the actions of our respected writers as a manufactured ‘paper rebellion’. He asks for scrutiny of the political and ideological affiliations of those who are protesting.

To these and other such provocations there is a clear answer: while the actual affiliations of the protesting writers and artists, scholars and journalists may be many and varied, their individual and collective voices are gaining cumulative strength. It is this that the ruling party will have to reckon with: the protestors’ declared disaffiliation from a government that encourages marauding outfits to enforce a series of regressive commands in this culturally diverse country.

The scale of social violence and fatal assaults on ordinary citizens (as in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh; Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir; Faridabad, Harayana) is escalating. The contemptuous comments about the religious minorities and Dalits made by those within the government confirm that there is little difference between the RSS-BJP mainstream and supposed ‘fringe’ elements. The perfunctory warnings and regrets issued by ruling party ideologues – to defend the agendas of ‘development’ and ‘governance’ advanced by Mr Narendra Modi – are merely expedient. The Sangh Parivar and its Hindutva forces operating through their goon brigades form the support base of this government; they are all complicit in the attempts to impose conformity of thought, belief and practice.

The ideology of the ruling party has revealed its contempt for creative and intellectual work; bigotry and censorship will only grow. As in the past, we must challenge the divisive forces through varied forms of appeal and protest, articulation and refusal. Our demand can be nothing less than that the entire range of constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens of this country – freedom of expression and speech, right to dissent and exert difference in life choices including culture and religion – be ensured.

A government that does not tolerate difference, that does not safeguard the lives and interests of its marginalized and vulnerable citizens, loses its legitimacy in a democratic polity. We are facing this situation now, already.

  1. Aastha Chauhan, artist, Delhi
  2. Aban Raza, artist, Delhi
  3. Abdul Mabood, Delhi
  4. Abhilasha Kumari, media professor, Delhi
  5. Abhimanue V.G., artist, Delhi
  6. Abhishek Hazra, artist, Bangalore
  7. Ahmar Raza, scientist, Delhi
  8. Aishwaryan K, artist, Bengaluru.
  9. Ajay Desai, artist, Delhi
  10. Aji V.N., artist, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  11. Akansha Rastogi, WALA collective, Delhi
  12. Akshaya Tankha, art historian, University of Toronto, Canada
  13. Alnoor Mitha, artist, curator, Manchester, UK
  14. Amar Kanwar, artist and filmmaker, Delhi
  15. Amrita Gupta Singh, art historian, Mumbai
  16. Anamika Haksar, theatre director, Mumbai
  17. Ananya Vajpeyi, CSDS, Delhi
  18. Anindita Bhattacharya, artist, Delhi
  19. Anish Ahluwalia, artist and filmmaker
  20. Anish Kapoor, artist, London
  21. Anita Dube, artist, Delhi
  22. Anjolie Ela Menon, artist, Delhi
  23. Anju Dodiya, artist, Mumbai
  24. Anjum Singh, artist, Delhi
  25. Anshuman Dasgupta, art historian, Santiniketan
  26. Anupam Saikia, Dept. of Fine Arts, University of Hyderabad
  27. Anupam Singh, artist, Mumbai
  28. Anuradha Kapur, theatre director, Delhi
  29. Aradhana Seth, production designer, artist, Goa
  30. Archana Hande, artist, Mumbai
  31. Arghya Priya Majumdar, artist, Santiniketan
  32. Arpana Caur, artist, Delhi
  33. Arpita Singh, artist, Delhi
  34. Arshad Hakim, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  35. Arshad Hakim, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  36. Arshiya Lokhandwala, curator, gallerist, Mumbai
  37. Arun Kumar H.G., artist, Delhi
  38. Arunima Choudhury, Kolkata
  39. Ashim Purkasthaya, artist, Delhi
  40. Ashis Kumar Das, artist, Mumbai
  41. Ashrafi S. Bhagat, art historian, Chennai
  42. Atreyee Gupta, art historian, Berlin
  43. Atul Bhalla, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  44. Atul Dodiya, artist, Mumbai
  45. Aurora Graldi, PhD Candidate in South Asian Art History, Vienna University
  46. Avani Batra, Delhi
  47. Avinash Veeraraghavan, artist, Bangalore
  48. Ayisha Abraham, artist, Bangalore
  49. Babitha Lingraj, artist, Bangalore
  50. Babu Eshwar Prasad, artist and filmmaker, Bangalore
  51. Balan Nambiar, artist, Bangalore
  52. Balbir Krishan, artist, Delhi
  53. Belinder Dhanoa, art critic, Delhi
  54. Bhagath Singh E.K,artist,Kerala
  55. Bharathesh G.D., artist, Bangalore
  56. Bharati Kapadia, artist, Mumbai
  57. Bharti Kher, artist Delhi
  58. Bhavani G.S., artist, Bangalore
  59. Bhavani Shiva, artist, Bangalore
  60. Biju Jose, artist, Bangalore
  61. Bina Sarkar Elias, editor & publisher, International Galerie
  62. C.F. John, artist, Bangalore
  63. Catherine Asher, art historian, USA
  64. Chaitanya Sambrani, art historian, Canberra
  65. Champa Sharath, artist, Bangalore
  66. Chandrima Bhattacharyya, artist, Bangalore
  67. Chinar Shah, artist, Bangalore
  68. Chintan Upadhyay, artist, Delhi/Mumbai
  69. Chitra Ganesh, artist, New York, USA
  70. Christopher Pinney, art historian, London, UK
  71. Cop Shiva, photographer, Bangalore
  72. Deepa Mahajan, artist, Mumbai/Singapore
  73. Deepak Ananth, art historian, Paris
  74. Deepanjana Klein, art historian, New York, USA
  75. Deepika Sorabjee, curator, Mumbai
  76. Deeptha Achar, art critic, Baroda
  77. Dev Benegal, New York, USA
  78. Devika Daulet-Singh, gallerist, Delhi
  79. Dhruvi Acharya, artist, Mumbai
  80. Diana Gomes, artist, Baroda
  81. Dilip Mitra, artist, Santiniketan
  82. Dimple Shah, artist, Bangalore
  83. Dipti Khera, art historian, New York University, USA
  84. Faiza Hasan, artist, Hyderabad.
  85. G.S. Gopinath, artist, Bangalore
  86. Gargi Raina, artist Baroda
  87. Gauri Gill, photographer, Delhi
  88. Gayatri Sinha, art critic, Delhi
  89. Geeta Doctor, writer, Chennai
  90. Geeta Kapur, art critic, Delhi
  91. Geetha Mehra, gallerist, Mumbai
  92. Gieve Patel, artist, Mumbai
  93. Gigi Scaria, artist, Delhi
  94. Gopika Chowfla, graphic designer, Delhi
  95. Gopika Nath, artist-craftsperson and writer, Gurgaon
  96. Goutam Das, artist, Santiniketan
  97. Gulammohammed Sheikh, artist, Baroda
  98. Hans Kaushik, artist, Chennai
  99. Hema Upadhyay, artist, Mumbai
  100. Homita Harish Katira, artist, Columbia, SC, USA
  101. Homita, artist, Mumbai
  102. Indrapramit Roy, artist, Baroda
  103. Indu Chandrasekhar, publisher, Delhi
  104. Ivan Smith, artist, Belper, Derbyshire, UK
  105. Jahangir Asgar Jani, artist, Mumbai
  106. Jaideep Mehrotra, artist, Mumbai
  107. Jaideep Sen, artist, Bangalore
  108. Jaishri Abichandani, artist, New York, USA
  109. James Khamliansawma, artist, Aizawl, Mizoram
  110. Janice Glowski, art historian, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  111. Jasbeer Singh, artist, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  112. Jatin Das, artist, Delhi
  113. Jeetin Rangher, artist, Bangalore
  114. Jitish Kallat, artist, Mumbai
  115. Johny M.L., art critic, Delhi
  116. Justin Ponmany, artist, Mumbai
  117. Jyotindra Jain, art historian, Delhi
  118. K.G. Subramanyan, artist, Baroda
  119. K.P. Reji, artist, Baroda
  120. K.V. Raghavendra Rao, artist, Bangalore, Vancouver, Canada
  121. Karishma D’Souza, Panaji, Goa
  122. Karishma Shah, artist, Surat
  123. Kathryn Myers, Professor of Art, University of Connecticut, USA
  124. Kaushik Bhaumik, artist, Delhi
  125. Kausik Mukhopadhyay, artist, Mumbai
  126. Kim Kyoungae, artist, Baroda
  127. Kirtana Thangavelu, art historian, S.N. School, Hyderabad
  128. Kirti Jain, theatre director, Delhi
  129. Krishen Khanna, artist, Delhi
  130. Krishnaraj Chonat, artist, Bangalore
  131. Kuldeep Singh, artist
  132. Kumari Ranjeeta, artist , Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  133. Kunal Kalra, artist, Hyderabad
  134. L.N. Tallur, artist, Kundapura
  135. L.N.V. Srinivas, artist, S.N. School, Hyderabad
  136. Lalitha Gopalan, video scholar, USA
  137. Lalitha Shankar, artist, Bangalore
  138. Latika Gupta, art historian, Delhi
  139. Leela Mayor, artist, Baroda
  140. Lokesh Khodke, artist, Delhi
  141. M.K. Raina, theatre director, Delhi
  142. Madhuban Mitra, artist, Kolkata
  143. Madhusree Dutta, filmmaker, Mumbai
  144. Madhusudhanan, artist, Kerala
  145. Mahesh G., artist, Mysore
  146. Mahjabin Imam Majumdar, artist, Santiniketan
  147. Mahula Ghosh, artist, Delhi
  148. Mala Marwah, artist, Delhi
  149. Malavika Rajnarayan, artist, Baroda
  150. Manas Bhattacharya, artist, Kolkata
  151. Manmohan, writer, Delhi
  152. Mansi Bhatt, artist, Mumbai
  153. Manuela Ciotti, visual anthropologist, Denmark
  154. Marie Dias Arora, artist, Delhi
  155. Mary-Louise Totton, art historian, USA
  156. Meera Devidayal, artist, Mumbai
  157. Meera Menezes, art critic, Delhi
  158. Megha Joshi, artist, Delhi
  159. Meher Pestonji, writer,Mumbai
  160. Mithu Sen, artist, Delhi
  161. Molly Emma Aitken, art historian, USA
  162. Mona Berman, Director, Mona Berman Fine Arts, New Haven, USA
  163. Moutushi Chakraborty, artist, Kolkata
  164. Myna Mukherjee, cultural curator, Delhi
  165. N. Ramachandran, artist, Chennai
  166. N.N. Rimzon, artist, Thiruvananthapuram
  167. N.S. Harsha, artist, Mysore
  168. Nalini Malani, artist, Mumbai
  169. Naman Ahuja, art historian, JNU, Delhi
  170. Nanaiah Chettira, artist, Bangalore
  171. Nanak Ganguly, art critic, Kolkata
  172. Nancy Adajania, art critic, Mumbai
  173. Nandesh Shanthi Prakash, artist, Bangalore
  174. Nataraj Sharma, artist, Baroda
  175. Natasha Ginwala, curator, Berlin/Ahmedabad
  176. Naveen Kumar, artist, Bangalore
  177. Navjot Altaf, artist, Mumbai
  178. Navroze Contractor, photographer, Bangalore
  179. Neelakshi Suryanarayan, University of Delhi, Delhi
  180. Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry, theatre director, Chandigarh
  181. Neha Choksi, Mumbai and Los Angeles, USA
  182. Nibha Sikander, artist, Baroda
  183. Nihaal Fazal, artist, Bangalore
  184. Nikhileswar Baruah, artist, Baroda
  185. Nilanjana S. Roy, writer, Delhi
  186. Nilima Shiekh, artist, Baroda
  187. Nirmala Beluka, artist, EFL, Hyderabad
  188. Niyatee Shinde, art and photography writer, curator, photo-historian, Mumbai
  189. Noopur Desai, art writer and researcher, Pune
  190. Oindrilla Maity Surai, curator, Kolkata
  191. Oli Ghosh, artist, Mumbai.
  192. Padma Kaimal, art historian, Colgate University, USA
  193. Parag Tandel, artist, Mumbai
  194. Paramjit Singh, artist, Delhi
  195. Parthiv Shah, photographer and designer, Delhi
  196. Parul Dave Mukherji, art historian, JNU, Delhi
  197. Parvati Nayar, artist, Chennai
  198. Paula Sengupta, artist, Kolkata
  199. Pavan K.J., artist, Mysore
  200. Payal Arya, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  201. Philippe Calia, artist, Mumbai
  202. Pierre Strauch, Paier College of Art, USA
  203. Prabhavati Meppayil, artist, Bangalore
  204. Prajakta Palav Aher, artist, Mumbai.
  205. Prajakta Potnis, artist, Mumbai
  206. Pratul Dash, artist, Ghaziabad
  207. Pratul Dash, artist, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad
  208. Premalatha Seshadri, artist, Chennai
  209. Prithpal S Ladi, artist, Shillong
  210. Priti Paul, gallerist, Delhi
  211. Priya Ravish Mehra, artist, Delhi
  212. Priya Sundaravalli, artist, Auroville
  213. Purushottam Agrawal, writer, Delhi
  214. Pushpamala N., artist, Bangalore
  215. Rabindra Patra, artist, Delhi
  216. Radha Gomaty, Kochi, Kerala
  217. Ragini Bhow, artist, Bangalore
  218. Rahul Bhushan, graphic artist, Hyderabad
  219. Rahul Dev, art critic, Delhi
  220. Rahul J. Gajjar, artist, Baroda
  221. Rajan Barrett
  222. Rakhi Peswani, artist, Bangalore
  223. Ram Rahman, photographer, Delhi
  224. Raman Sivakumar, art historian, Santiniketan
  225. Ramesh Chandra, artist, Bangalore
  226. Ranbir Kaleka, artist, Delhi
  227. Ranjit Hoskote, art critic, Mumbai
  228. Ranjit Kandalgaonkar, artist, Mumbai
  229. Ranjith Raman, artist, Delhi
  230. Rashmee Pal Chouteau, artist, Kolkata
  231. Rashmi Kaleka, artist, Delhi
  232. Rashmimala Devi, artist, Baroda
  233. Rasna Bhushan, art critic, Hyderabad
  234. Rasna Bhushan, art critic, Hyderabad
  235. Ravikumar Kashi, artist, Bangalore
  236. Reena Saini Kallat, artist, Mumbai
  237. Rekha Rodwittiya, artist, Baroda
  238. Renu Modi, Gallery Espace, Delhi
  239. Risha Lee, Rubin Museum of Art, New York USA
  240. Riyas Komu, artist, Mumbai
  241. Rohini Devasher, artist, Delhi
  242. Rosalyn Dmello, art critic, Delhi
  243. Rupa Rani, artist, Delhi
  244. Rupali Patil, artist, Mumbai
  245. Rustom Bharucha, writer, Delhi
  246. Saba Hasan, artist, Delhi
  247. Sabina Jaitly, artist
  248. Sabitha T.P., art historian, UK
  249. Sachin Karne, artist, Baroda
  250. Sadanand Menon, photographer, critic, Chennai
  251. Sagar S. Naik Mule, artist, Hyderabad
  252. Sahej Rahal, artist, Mumbai
  253. Sajitha Madathil, actress, Kochi, Kerala
  254. Salik Ahmad, Delhi
  255. Saloni Mathur, art historian, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
  256. Samit Das, artist, art historian, Delhi
  257. Sanchayan Ghosh, artist, Santiniketan
  258. Sandeep Biswas, photographer, Delhi
  259. Sandeep Singhal, art collector, Mumbai
  260. Sanjeev Khandekar, artist, Mumbai
  261. Santhoshkumar Sakhinala, art historian, Hyderabad
  262. Saravanan Parasuraman, artist, Chennai
  263. Sarita Chouhan, Mumbai
  264. Sasha Altaf, art critic, Mumbai/Miami USA
  265. Savithri Rajeevan, poet, painter, Baroda
  266. Shaibani Azam, animator, Delhi
  267. Shakuntala Kulkarni, artist, Mumbai
  268. Shamala Nandesha, artist, Bangalore
  269. Shanthamani Muddiah, artist, Bangalore
  270. Shanthi Swaroopini, artist,Hyderabad
  271. Sharan Apparao, gallerist Chennai
  272. N. Ramachandran, artist, Chennai
  273. Sharmila Samant, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  274. Sheba Chhachhi, artist, Delhi
  275. Sheela Gowda, artist, Bangalore
  276. Shefalee Jain, artist, Ambedkar University Delhi
  277. Sheila Makhijani, artist, Delhi
  278. Sherna Dastur, designer, Delhi
  279. Shilpa Gupta, artist, Mumbai
  280. Shireen Gandhy, gallerist, Mumbai
  281. Shivaji.K. Panikkar, art historian, Delhi.
  282. Shreshta Rit Premnath, artist, New York, USA
  283. Shubha, writer, Delhi
  284. Shubhalakshmi Shukla, art writer, Mumbai
  285. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist, Raqs Media Collective, Delhi
  286. Shukla Sawant, artist, JNU, Delhi
  287. Sita Reddy, curator/writer, Hyderabad
  288. Smitha Cariappa, artist, Bangalore
  289. Sonal Khullar, art historian, Seattle, USA
  290. Sonam Chaturvedi, art student, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  291. Sonia Jabbar, photographer, filmmaker and graphic designer, Delhi
  292. Sonia Khurana, artist, Delhi
  293. Sosa Joseph
  294. Soumik Nandy Majumdar, art historian, Santiniketan
  295. Srajana Kaikini, curator, research scholar, Bangalore
  296. Sreshta Rit Premnath, Assistant Professor, Parsons Fine Arts, New York
  297. Subba Ghosh, artist, Delhi
  298. Subodh Gupta, artist, Delhi
  299. Subodh Singh Triparti, art history, sculpture, JNAFAU, Hyderabad
  300. Sudarshan Shetty, artist, Mumbai
  301. Sudhir Patwardhan, artist, Mumbai
  302. Sudipta Sen, artist, Kolkata
  303. Sugata Ray, art historian, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  304. Suguresh Sultanpur, artist, Baroda
  305. Suhas Nimbalkar, artist, Pune
  306. Suman Gopinath, curator, Bangalore
  307. Sumathi Ramaswamy, historian, visual culture, Duke Univ., USA
  308. Sumedh Rajendran, artist, Delhi
  309. Sumesh Sharma, curator, Clark House Initiative, Mumbai
  310. Suneel Sinha,theatre, film & TV worker, Mumbai
  311. Sunil Kothari, Delhi
  312. Surekha, artist, Bangalore
  313. Surendran Nair, artist, Baroda
  314. Suresh B.V., artist, Baroda
  315. Suresh Jayaram, art historian, Bangalore
  316. Susan S. Bean, independent curator, USA
  317. Swati Khurana, artist ,New York
  318. Tallur L.N., artist, Kundapura
  319. Tanmoy Samanta, artist, Delhi
  320. Tanuja Rane, artist, Mumbai
  321. Tara Sabharwal, artist, Delhi
  322. Tunty Chauhan,Threshold Art Gallery , Delhi
  323. Tushar Joag, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  324. Udeya Vir Singh, artist, Bangalore
  325. Uma Shankar Pathak, artist, Delhi
  326. Umar Aman, Delhi
  327. Urvi Khanna, Delhi
  328. Ushmita Sahu, artist, curator, Santiniketan
  329. Ushmita Sahu, artist, curator, Santiniketan
  330. Manjari Chakravarti, artist, Santiniketan
  331. Vaishali Narkar, artist, Mumbai
  332. VaishaliNarkar, artist, Mumbai
  333. Valay Gada, artist/designer, Delhi
  334. Varsha Nair, artist, Baroda
  335. Varunika Saraf, artist, Hyderabad
  336. Vasudha Thozhur, artist, Delhi
  337. Vasvi Oza: artist, Gujarat
  338. Veena Bhargava, artist, Kolkata
  339. Veer Munshi, artist, Delhi
  340. Velu Viswanadhan, artist, Paris/ Chennai
  341. Vibha Galhotra, artist, Delhi
  342. Vidya Rao, Music, Delhi
  343. Vidya Shivadas, curator, Delhi
  344. Vijay Sekhon, artist, Mumbai
  345. Vinod Bhardwaj, art critic, Delhi
  346. Vishaka Chanchani, art educator, Bangalore
  347. Viswanadhan, artist, Paris
  348. Viswanath B.R., artist/cinematographer, Bangalore
  349. Vivan Sundaram, artist, Delhi
  350. Yamini Nayar, artist
  351. Yardena Kurulkar, artist, Mumbai
  352. Yashodhara Dalmia, art critic, Delhi
  353. Yashwant Deshmukh, artist, Mumbai
  354. Yunus Khimani, artist, Jaipur


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