Jawaharlal Nehru University’s administrative block or “freedom-square”, which has witnessed several protests and has also given shelter to students, has now provided a platform for cartoonists to showcase their work.
Political cartoons by Gopal Shonya, a freelance cartoonist, have provided a new rallying point for JNU students to stand and discuss their anguish against the government. Shonya’s exhibition is his way of expressing solidarity with JNU—an institution he describes as a space for free thinking.
A ring of 62 digital cartoons pasted on black charts have been put up---most of which raise questions about the existing establishment.
“These are the cartoons I have prepared for the last two years, from the time Modi government came to power. I have never exhibited anywhere else, as I always wanted to show my cartoons displayed in an open space, where people can discuss and debate. Some of my friends asked so I put it up here,” said Shonya, who describes himself as a frequent visitor to JNU and friend of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.
Cartoons with “Badhai Ho, Hindu Rashtra Paida Hona Wala Hai” (Congratulations, A Hindu nation is being born) with picture of BJP leaders and caricature of Mohan Bhagwat with Narendra Modi are present. The cartoons take a dig at various schemes of the government such as Beti Bachao and Clean India campaign.
Shonya, 30, describes his cartoon as progressive content, and expresses anguish towards the prevailing situation in the country. “The situation in the country has been so created that it seems it will soon be transformed into a ‘Hitler’ like regime,” said Shonya who is from Bihar and has studied at the College of Art and Craft, Patna University.
He underlined that he was least bothered of his cartoons could also be viewed as “seditious”.
“In this atmosphere where government cannot hear anything against itself, they can term anything as seditious. But since we have a right given to us by our Constitution, government cannot force anything on us,” he said.