Jaipur Art Summit: Raje ‘saddened’, Tweets SHO shunted out

Jaipur: A day after an art installation, The Bovine Divine, depicting a plastic cow suspended by a balloon, at the Jaipur Art Summit at Jawahar Kala Kendra was brought down by the police for “hurting religious sentiments”, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Sunday said she was “saddened” by the incident.

"I am saddened by the incident that took place at JKK (Jawahar Kala Kendra) yesterday. The Police Commissioner has extended his apology,” tweeted Raje. “The SHO and concerned have been removed and I have spoken to the artist personally,” she tweeted.

“I met Chintan Upadhyay in the morning and extended an apology. It was a misunderstanding and wasn’t handled properly. So the SHO (Mahendra Gupta of Bajaj Nagar police station) and a constable have been removed and sent for ‘line haazir’,” said Jaipur Police Commissioner Janga Sriniwas Rao.

On Saturday, Police allegedly manhandles Upadhyay and another artiste, Anish Ahluwalia, and detained them for about two hours for protesting against the police action. According to the artistes, they had tried to convey to the police that the message of the installation was to spread awareness about the consumption of plastic by cows.

"The CM said it was a sad thing to happen and she could understand the pain. She assured that action would be taken against the police,” said Upadhyay. “It will certainly send the message that the police cannot get away with such violent action,” he said. “I think the CM taking cognizance is a step in the right direction. Action against one SHO will send a message to other policemen to not intimidate people. I told them that what they were doing was extra-judicial, but they would not listen,” said Ahluwalia.

“The installation that was destroyed was made over seven-eight days, with much money, love and intent by the artist. We can’t bring it back,” he said. “The person who raised this question was not made to pay for this avoidable controversy. Has he been questioned like we were?”

Mahavir Pratap Sharma, director of the art summit, said they don’t plan to install the work again. “We did not intend to hurt anyone. And (after the controversy), the message to save cows and not to litter our streets has gone far and wide, more than what was expected. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s sensibilities again, so we are not going to install the work again,” he said.

“There was information about protests against the installation, so the decision to remove the installation was correct. However, the detention of the artistes was wrong… According to the calls that we received, people were confused about whether it was a real cow, whether the message was to kill and hang cows… it was difficult to make out the details as the cow was suspended at such height,” said DCP (Jaipur East) Kunwar Rashtradeep.

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