AAP minister alleges RSS members threatened street artists in Delhi

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 26, 2016 08:43 IST
Delhi culture minister Kapil Mishra alleges artists were targeted by RSS members for writing in Urdu. (HT file photo)

Delhi culture minister Kapil Mishra has complained to the Delhi Police commissioner that members of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) allegedly intimidated an artist commissioned by the government.

On May 20, Akhlaq Ahmad was commissioned by the Delhi government to paint the walls along with French artist Swen Simon at the DJB office on GT Road in Shahdara.

“Suddenly a mob of over a hundred people gathered around the artists and intimidated them because they were writing in Urdu. These people who were led by several Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members and leaders forced the artists to paint ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ over the text they had been working on. They were shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram and Narendra Modi and called the artists Lahoris,” Mishra alleged in a letter to commissioner Alok Verma.

The wall painting was part of Delhi government-supported initiative called #MyDilliStory.

“This was a Twitter-based competition that invited people to post stories, jokes and anecdotes about Delhi using 140 characters. The entries were invited in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and English. 40 winning entries are currently being painted across the city by signboard painters and artists. The basic premise of this project was to popularise the use of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi online as well as to celebrate the dying art of hand painted typefaces,” Mishra said.

“Urdu is one of the four official languages of Delhi apart from Hindi, Punjabi and English. These men of the RSS neither understand art nor culture, language and religion. They don’t understand Delhi and its vibrant citizens. No one in their right mind would have done this to our foreign guests and lovers of Delhi’s culture, who are actually doing such a great service to the city,” he said.

Mishra said the police didn’t immediately act. “I am told that the police were rude, took away their phones and questioned their motives once told that they lived in Batla House. I demand that the police take immediate action against the members of the RSS who indulged in such a heinous act against our artists and violated the law,” he said.

The RSS refuted the allegations.

A senior Delhi RSS functionary said the AAP government was deploying such tactics to take attention away from its failings. “Their policies like odd-even failed, the city is reeling under power crisis, so they tried to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi by making false accusations about his degree. Now, that they have failed everywhere, they are trying to malign the RSS.”

The slogan which was being painted in Urdu is written by DU student Zeeshan Amjad. The couplet chosen for the jal board building’s wall refers to the city being destroyed and rebuilt seven times. It says: “Dilli tera ujadna, aur phir ujad ke basna. Woh dil hai toone paya, saani nahi hai jiska (Oh Delhi, you were ruined and built several times. No city has a heart like yours).”

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