Gujarat: MSU accuses student of making ‘controversial’ artwork

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The MSU union on Wednesday unanimously decided to rusticate a student of the Faculty of Fine Arts for allegedly create a controversial work which led to a protest by right-wing groups on campus on May 5. Vice Chancellor VK Shrivastava said the union also decided to issue show cause notices to faculty members and others involved in the incident.

The student, Kundan Yadav, who belonged to the sculpture department, was rusticated after a nine-member investigative committee filed its report with the Syndicate on Tuesday. The union has also decided to form two committees to ensure that faculty members adhere to a “code of conduct”.

Shrivastava said, “The Syndicate discussed about 26 issues. One of the issues was the fine arts incident. It was unanimously decided that, in accordance with the report of the investigating committee, the student who had prepared such a work of art would be expelled from MSU. Show cause notices will be issued to others, including the teacher, who supervised the project directly, the teacher’s supervisor, the associate dean, and the dean himself. Once their explanations have been received, we will take further action.

Shrivastava also confirmed that the report concluded that the controversial artwork had been removed from the list of artworks on display at the annual exhibition. Shrivastava said, “The student had prepared the artwork and showed it to the teacher, but it was not displayed to the public. The work was placed in front of the teacher for evaluation. They have an internal and external evaluation process and based on this the students are given grades, but it is not true that the work has been exposed to the public… We are investigating how the images went viral .

Shrivastava said he disagreed with the violent protests by right-wing groups over the matter. “The administration has a process, which must be followed. The committee worked according to process… The committee members expedited the investigation to ensure that the report was prepared in time for the Union meeting. But we also agree that this is just a momentary action, we need a long term solution. Therefore, the Union has decided to create several committees to ensure that such incidents do not happen again… MSU is a world-renowned university and has an image to protect,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor added that the Union has decided to prepare a detailed “code of conduct” for faculty members. “The Code of Conduct Implementation Committee will intervene immediately if anyone is found to be in breach of the code. The committee will include experts, who will ensure that all faculty members abide by the codes and do not engage in acts contrary to the legacy and image of MSU… There will also be another committee that will frequently visit the departments and monitor any controversial activity,” Shrivastava said. The Syndicate also approved the installation of CCTV cameras at the Faculty of Fine Arts as recommended by the inquiry committee, he added.

On Monday, Sayajigunj police station booked Yadav, based on the complaint filed by a second-year student from the same faculty. Yadav had created an artwork resembling goddesses from clippings of newspaper articles about crimes against women. Yadav was convicted under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 295A (willful and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting their religion or religious beliefs).

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