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Blame game begins as Pak artist’s show scrapped in Bengal

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “While I don’t know the exact details of what transpired at Victoria Memorial, it is our culture to welcome all artists. We had invited Ghulam Ali as well. We will try to know what happened.”

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | Kolkata |
February 23, 2016 12:34:28 am

Days after his exhibition, ‘Ghalib and Gulzar’, was cancelled hours before it was scheduled to begin at the Victoria Memorial here on Saturday, Pakistani artist Shahid Rassam has alleged that the event was scrapped after West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi refused to inaugurate it. However, officials at Victoria Memorial claimed that Rassam “duped” them into believing that Gulzar would attend the event.

“Hours before the exhibition, I was told that it had been cancelled because the Governor wasn’t going to come. I have worked on this exhibition for years and have put in a lot of effort. I think it is very unfortunate that I have been treated like this,” Rassam told The Indian Express.

He said he had spoken to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi on the issue. “I don’t know the reason behind the Governor’s decision. But the fact is that hours before it was supposed to begin, I was told by Victoria Memorial, via email, that the event would not take place,” he said.

A spokesperson for Tripathi countered: “After we were informed that Gulzar wasn’t coming for the event, the Governor cancelled the event. There was a lot of confusion about the event, and the Governor also had some personal work to attend to.”

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Jayanta Sengupta, Secretary & Curator of Victoria Memorial, which is under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Culture, said: “Rassam consistently told us that he had spoken to Gulzar and would be arranging his flight to Kolkata. He even sent us the flight details, but at the last minute claimed that Gulzar wouldn’t be able to come since he was unwell. Later, we spoke to Gulzar, who said he had told Rassam that he would not be coming for the event. That is when we realised that Rassam had been deceitful and we decided to cancel the event because it would legitimise this trickery.”

Denying the allegation, Rassam said: “Even if Gulzar wasn’t able to make it, that was no reason to cancel the event in such a shameful manner. Gulzar Saab never said he wouldn’t come for the event. At the last minute, he told us that he couldn’t come to Kolkata and I informed Victoria Memorial about the same. But now, it seems like they were never interested in my exhibition and only wanted his presence.”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “While I don’t know the exact details of what transpired at Victoria Memorial, it is our culture to welcome all artists. We had invited Ghulam Ali as well. We will try to know what happened.”

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First published on: 23-02-2016 at 12:34:28 am
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