The Goa police have issued a notice to well-known installation artist Subodh Kerkar asking him to "refrain from hurting religious sentiments" after he courted controversy for his portrayal of Hindu deity Ganesh.
The notice issued under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) has come as a shock to the artist, who in his First Information Report (FIR) filed on Monday said that he received threats from unknown people who had threatened to "chop his fingers and kill him if he ever draws Ganesh again".
Speaking to reporters, Superintendent of Police (North) Bosco George on Tuesday confirmed the notice under section 149 CrPC. "Through the notice we have asked him to desist from hurting anyone's sentiments," George said. Section 149 CrPC allows police to intervene to "prevent the commission of any cognizable offence".
Police Inspector Nolasco Raposo, in charge of the Calangute police station, said that two complaints had been filed against Kerkar by Hindu right wing groups Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and Shri Samarth Ramdas Seva Bhakti Mandal. The complaints had been sent to the prosecution department for its opinion.
"We will act on these complaints on the basis of the advice we receive from the prosecution department," Raposo said.
The right wing groups have claimed that Kerkar's "obscene" portrayal of Lord Ganesh amounted to denigration of Hindu religion and offended the feelings of Hindus who revere the tusked deity.
Kerkar's paintings and a green installation featuring a large idol of Lord Ganesh amidst heaps of garbage -- highlighting the garbage woes of the state -- are to feature in an exhibition in the artist's gallery in Calangute later this month.