Congress for security to Hussain, BJP says he can settle anywhere in world

New Delhi, Feb 25 (Calcutta Tube) The Congress Thursday said the government will provide security to M.F. Husain if he wants to return to the country, following reports that the artist had been given Qatari nationality, even as the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said his works had hurt people’s sentiments.

Husain, 95, under attack from the Hindu right wing groups for his paintings on goddesses and hopping between Dubai and London because he is unable to come home, reportedly has been given Qatari citizenship.

‘I, the Indian origin painter M.F. Husain at 95 have been honoured by Qatar nationality,’ Husain wrote above a line sketch of a horse, the leitmotif of much of his work, released in The Hindu.

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters here that Husain was a citizen of the country and it was duty of the government to provide him security if he wants to return.

‘If he chooses to return, it is duty of the government to provide him security. It (the government) will do its duty,’ he said.

Asked about the government not doing enough to facilitate the artist’s return, he said the reason of his worries was not Congress but Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh and its affiliate organizations who had filed defamation cases against him in different parts of the country.

Replying to a question about the role of government in protecting his artistic work, Tewari said civil society also had to role to play ‘in fighting bigotry’.

BJP’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia reacted to reports of Husain having been given Qatari citizenship by asserting that any individual had the right to take citizenship of any country in the world and the the party did not want to deny that right to Husain.

‘However, it is duty of any creative person to see that his work does not hurt sentiments of people,’ Ahluwalia told reporters.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the government should urge the painter to come back and provide assurances about his security.

‘(What is happening to Husain) It is very unfortunate and regrettable. The government should give him an assurance about his security,’ Yechury said.

Earlier, BJP leader Najma Heptullah said Husain ‘was a very good artist’ but art should not hurt sentiments of the people.

‘If art hurts feelings of people, it is not right,’ she said, adding that his portrayal of Hindu deities had hurt religious sentiments of the people and it was not a question of Hindus or Muslims.

She said Husain ‘did not face danger to his life’ in the country and people were ‘only agitating’ over some of his paintings.

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