The Sangh Parivar’s intolerance reached a crescendo in Ahmedabad on Friday when its members attacked Prof Shivaji Panikker, the suspended Dean of the Fine Arts Faculty of the Maharaja Sayajirao University.
Panikker had been suspended for defending a Vadodara student’s painting against the BJP and Bajrang Dal’s opposition to it.
On Friday, Panniker was inaugurating a painting exhibition by students from all over the country on communal harmony and peace. As soon as his car reached the campus, 25 to 30 activists of the BJP and the Bajrang Dal greeted him with slogans. Stones were pelted on his car and his driver, who tried to intervene, was beaten up.
The organisers were taken by surprise, but one of them managed to tell the driver to speed away. Panikker was saved from serious injury, but his car was badly damaged and the driver was injured.
Panikker later lodged a police complaint. He said he had mistaken the activists for visitors to the exhibition.
“But then they started shouting slogans and attacked”, he said, adding that he had no inkling about the attack.
Former Miss India Nafisa Ali, who was an invitee, condemned the attack, saying, “they are using hate for political mileage”.
“We need to heal them as they are misguided elements”, she said about the goons who attacked Panikker.
Inaugurating the exhibition later in the afternoon, Panikker said, “We will not succumb to such threats and attacks. I came as I love freedom”.
Panikker, an expert of art history, said his student Chandramohan did not violate any artistic norms.
The exhibition, organised by Delhi-based NGO ANHAD, displayed paintings, posters and other art-works done by students of 2,000 schools and 200 media institutions all over the country.
A festival of documentary films made by students is also being organised as part of ANHAD’s National Festival for Peace, Communal and Justice.