Officials of Assam government on Monday took a decision to replace a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Guwahati, which was created by one of India's renown sculptors Ramkinkar Baij.
Officials of Assam government on Monday took a decision to replace a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Guwahati, which was created by one of India’s renown sculptors Ramkinkar Baij. Reason: Officials believe the statue present a distorted image. The move has been widely criticised by several artists and they have termed it a shocking and a criminal act. The resolution taken in the meeting said, “The statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which was sculpted long back, gives a distorted image of Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, (this) meeting has decided to sculpt another statue and replace the old one.”
Speaking to Indian Express, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Guwahati (EAST) Siddhartha Bhattacharyya said, “Look at the statue. Look at the disproportionate hands and feet. They do not resemble those of the Mahatma in any manner. His face is distorted, as also the pair of glasses. That is why we have decided to dismantle it and place a new statue there.” Bhattacharyya was also a part of the meeting.
When asked about who the sculptor was, Bhattacharyya said, “Some people claim it was made by Ramkinkar Baij. I don’t know.”
Prof Swapan Dutta, who is the acting Vice-Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, said the decision by the officials was unfortunate. “Ramkinkar Baij is one of the most important artists in contemporary Indian art. I will go as far as to say that there can never be another Ramkinkar. There are sculptures he has made, which we have at Visva-Bharati, of Sujata and Gautam Buddha. These sculptures do not look like Sujata or Gautam Buddha — and that’s the point, it is an interpretation, it is art. There are thousands of pictures and paintings of Mahatma Gandhi all across the country, which look exactly like he did. Art isn’t about looking for similarities,” he told the paper.
The report further informed that Baij passed away in 1980 at the age of 74. He started making the statue with concrete in 1968 for the state government, but left the work to be completed by his assistants. The statue was unveiled in October 1970 by the then chief minister Bishnu Ram Medhi. It was situated inside the Gandhi Mandap garden atop Sarania Hill in Guwahati.
The decision to destruct the statue caused an uproar in the city on July 8. Manik Bora, an art critic and avid film-maker who heads the Heritage Conservation Society of Assam, told The Indian Express that very few states would have such a treasure made by Baij, a father figure of contextual modernism. “I consider it a criminal act,” he said.