Should Maqbool Fida Husain, who put the Indian contemporary art on the world map, have given up Indian citizenship? The artistic community is sharply divided.
While some feel that he should not have left India, others contend that he wanted to put the past behind him and find a new home before he dies.
The 95-year-old painter met Deepa Wadhwa, India's ambassador to Qatar, Sunday and surrendered his Indian passport.
"When he announced he was becoming an honorary citizen of Qatar, he made a political statement. Handing over the passport was only a formality. He is justified because the system has failed him, the court has failed him and even our gods have failed him," Ram Rahman, activist, designer-photographer and a close friend of Husain, told IANS.
In a open letter to Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday night, Rahman, along with intellectuals Vivan Sundaram, Arpana Caur, MK Raina, Shubha Mudgal and K Bikram Singh, said "the acceptance of citizenship of Qatar by Husain has caused anguish to the artistic community".
They called it "a national tragedy".
Rahman and the others wanted to know what kind of security would India provide him if he chose to return.
Veena Sikri, a former ambassador to Bangladesh and head of the Ford Foundation chair at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, said that "the citizenship was Husain's choice".
"There are many Indians who adopt other countries' nationalities. It is part of the globalisation process", Sikri told IANS.
"He was trying to put the past behind. Personally, I think religion should not be dragged into politics. India's diaspora runs into millions. Just because Husain has given up the Indian citizenship, it does not mean Husain cannot return," she said.
Farooq Nizami, a Husain fan and keeper of sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia's dargah in Delhi, feels that the artist should not have "given up Hindustan".
"He should not have surrendered Indian citizenhip. He was born here, brought up here and the country gave him fame. He should have given the matter some more thought," Nizami told IANS.
Said Naren Bhikhu Ram Jain, director of the New Delhi-based Art Mall: "Tea grown in Darjeeling was taken away by the British. Husain, the pride of India, will now be known as the pride of Qatar. We will repent."