The newly inaugurated art gallery of the Jamia Millia Islamia university has opened its doors with a very special event, honouring the memory of an icon-Safdar Hashmi.
The gallery, named after renowned painter Maqbool Fida Hussain, currently in self-imposed exile, is holding a month-long exhibition that marks 20 years of Sahmat, the trust found in the memory of activist-cum-theatre personality Hashmi.
On January 1, 1989, Hashmi was killed in an attack by political goons while performing a street play, Halla Bol (Raise protest) at Sahibabad in Uttar Pradesh. Hashmi was known for his egalitarian and leftist ideology.
Against the backdrop of the recent encounter in Batla House (the area is just a kilometre away from the university), the trust said Jamia was an appropriate choice for the ongoing exhibition. "There is a sense of insecurity and victimisation amongst the students here. We want them to see our work that reflects sanity, freedom of speech and communal harmony," said Ram Rahman, a founder member of Sahmat.
The exhibition, which is on till February 14, depicts 20 years of the trust's work, largely comprising images (paintings and photographs), music, street plays and publications dealing with the issue of secularism.
Ranging from original letters by renowned film personalities like Satyajit Ray, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Nagrajuna written in protest after Hashmi's killing, one can move on to see paintings of M.F. Hussain recently smashed by right wing organisations.
Separate sections of the gallery deal with the trust's work on Ayodhya and the demolition of the Babri mosque.
Worth mentioning is a sort of map that explores multicultural Ayodhya, in the context of the geographical, historical, social and cultural evolution of the town. And most interesting is the break-up of the word A-yodhya here, which means a place of no conflict.
Corners in the gallery depict the work of the organisation during the past two decades via photos, paintings, text contributed by eminent painters like Manjit Bawa. The trust has also put up its version of the controversies that have surrounded it in the past many years, including denied grants.