M S University Dean suspended, students go on strike to protest

M S University Dean suspended, students go on strike to protest
Vadodara, May 12 (PTI) The Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) today suspended its Fine Arts faculty dean for refusing to obey its orders for closing a controversial art exhibition, as the students and teachers struck work in support of their department in-charge.

Dean of Fine Arts department Shivaji Panikkar was suspended after he refused to close an exhibition which had drawn ire of the Sangh Parivar following alleged negative portrayal of Hindu deities.

The issue of vandalisation of art works in the fine arts faculty of the MSU seemed to be snowballing into a major controversy, with the faculty members and students striking work today to protest Panikkar's suspension.

A meeting of students and teachers has been convened on April 14 to discuss further strategy in which art lovers have been asked to lend support, a teacher said.

Describing the suspension of Panikkar as "illegal", the faculty members of the department went on a mass casual leave, while the students staged a day-long long sit-in on the campus.

The students criticised the university vice-chancellor and other senior officials for playing into the hands of the saffron brigade.

The students and faculty members from applied arts, art history and aesthetic graphic arts, museology, painting and sculpture departments were unanimous in condemning the university's move to close down the exhibition and suspend the in-charge dean.

The agitating students displayed placards on the campus which read: "The BJP and VHP are not the torch-bearers of morality."

All the activities of the University came to a standstill following the mass leave and the protests staged by the students showing solidairty to the suspended dean.

The agitating students displayed placards, one reading 'down with moral policing. It's our liberty to express ourselves'.

However, two former general secretaries of the University students' union demanded Panikkar's removal apart from stern action against the student artist who drew the controversial paintings.

The University had to close down the art exhibition yesterday after protests from right wing outfits and some Christian groups, which had objected to the show for the alleged portrayal of nude Hindu deities.

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