MUMBAI: A leading Indian painter is losing his home and other properties after failing to appear before a court trying him for hurting religious sentiments by painting “Mother India” as a naked woman.
Maqbool Fida Husain’s paintings have often depicted revered Hindu gods and goddesses in the nude, sparking criticism from nationalist parties and activists. A decade ago, radicals even attacked his Mumbai home.
The painting at issue in the latest controversy shows a naked woman in front of a wheel resembling the one used in India’s national flag. The names of some of India’s states are written across her body.
A similar composition of a sari-clad woman with a wheel – a Buddhist symbol known in Hindi as the dharma chakra – in the background is used to portray “Mother India” in many patriotic publications.
Husain’s work drew protests and several court cases were filed against the 91-year-old painter who lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London.
“He did not answer repeated summons from one of the courts which has now issued a proclamation to attach his properties,” Mumbai police official Brijesh Singh said.
“We have pasted the attachment proclamation notice on his home and are checking if he owns any more properties,” he added.
Akhil Sibal, Husain’s lawyer, said, “My client was unaware of any summons from court. Now that we have come to know we are moving to the Supreme Court. This is a politically-motivated case.”
Rightwing groups have called for the arrest of Husain, whose flowing white locks and beard, and habit of walking barefoot, have become iconic in Indian art circles.
In the past, Husain has received support from moderate, progressive Hindus, and on one occasion a former prime minister intervened to ensure no action was taken against him. reuters