Several social media users who shared images of the paintings displayed at a two-day art exhibition held at the college claimed that they insulted Hinduism.

Chennais Loyola College apologises for controversial paintings after right-wing
news Controversy Monday, January 21, 2019 - 15:34

Several posters and paintings displayed at an art exhibition at Chennai’s Loyola College have stirred up a controversy after many right-wing groups on social media, as well as the youth wing of the BJP, alleged that the paintings insult Hindu gods and goddesses. The pictures were displayed during the cultural event, Veethi Virudhu Vizha, held on January 19 and 20 to bring into focus traditional art forms. The event was organised by the college's student support services, which lends support to Dalit students and students from other vulnerable groups on campus. 

Users on social media shared pictures of the controversial paintings – one of them showed Bharat Maata in the context of MeToo and others targeted the BJP-led central government over various issues like the Rafale deal and Swachch Bharat mission. Several users lashed out at the college authorities condemning the exhibition.

BJP leader H Raja took to Twitter on Monday demanding action against the college authorities.

“At Chennai’s Loyola College, VCK, Communists, Naxalites and Christians, who are trying to change people’s religion, and other evil forces have come together and are conspiring against Hindu religion and they are launching an attack against the nation. A complaint has been filed with the police regarding this. The PM and Hindu religion have portrayed in a derogatory manner and action must be taken against this,” the BJP national secretary alleged on Twitter.

BJP Tamil Nadu unit President Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan also condemned the exhibition at Loyola College, reports TheWeek. Soundararajan has reportedly stated that they “insulted Hindu sentiments, RSS, Modi and Bharat Mata.”

Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan also lashed out at the Tamil Nadu government and demanded that action be taken against the college.

Meanwhile, Loyola College has put out a statement distancing itself from the paintings and has issued an apology, stating that it was an oversight on their part.

“We are deeply pained, saddened and equally anguished that the venue to conduct a cultural event, Veethi Virudhu Vizha held on 19th and 20th Jan 2019 has been misused, our illustrious and pluralistic campus was used for derogative exhibits against a particular religious group, social institution, political party and the country’s leadership,” read the statement.

“Loyola College is an institution of excellence that has cherished the plural values and ethos of the country with equal importance to each constituent member of the family where majority of our brethren are from the largest religious group. We do not advocate or support anything that tantamount to disturbing peace and tranquility of the society that we render our service to,” it added.

The authorities stated that the exhibits were removed the moment they were brought to college’s notice.

Speaking to TNM, leaders of the DMK and the VCK questioned the BJP and stated that opposition to the paintings and Raja's demands that they be removed is against the freedom of expression of the students. 

“They (BJP) are targeting educational institutions. BJP has no business to interfere. This is the freedom of expression of the students. The college authorities are now scared because of BJP’s threats. The duty of political parties in Tamil Nadu is to come forward,” said VCK leader D Ravikumar, speaking to TNM.

“This is an infringement of their freedom of expression. These people want to muffle the voices of the critics. Every individual has the right to criticise anything which is against law or to express their opinion on any matter,” DMK’s TKS Elangovan told TNM.

In November last year, after H Raja similarly opposed an event to discuss violence of women as portrayed in Tamil literature, the Tamil Nadu government cancelled the event. The international seminar on ‘Harassment of women as registered in Tamil literature’ announced by the Tamil department of  St. Joseph’s College in Tiruchi was set to be held on December 6th and 7th. According to a brochure accessed by TNM, it sought to address the gender imbalance that prevails in society from Vedic times. Minister for Tamil culture, 'Ma Foi' K Pandiarajan had stated that the government will not allow a 'derogatory and slanderous' conference to be conducted.

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