Top officials of the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, an autonomous state-funded cultural body, said Monday that they stood firm on the award given to cartoonist KK Subhash for his portrayal of a rape-accused Catholic Bishop.
Akademi chairman Nemom Pushparaj told reporters in Thrissur that the body’s executive and general council wings unanimously decided to stamp their approval of the jury’s decision to confer the state award for the best political cartoon to Subhash. This comes after the ruling LDF government asked the Akademi to review its award. He said withdrawal of the award would amount to infringing upon creative liberty.
The cartoon by Subhash depicts former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who faces charges of sexually assaulting and raping a nun, as a rooster with a woman’s underwear hanging on his crosier, a sort of staff perceived as the power of the pastoral office.
While a group of nuns are seen to be running away in the background, the cartoon also shows Independent MLA PC George, who supported the Bishop in the rape case, and PK Sasi, a CPM leader suspended from the party after rape allegations.
The cartoon, titled Vishwasam Rakshathi’ (Protection of faith), had first appeared in a magazine last year.
The cartoon caused an uproar among the Catholic clergy with the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) demanding its withdrawal. The body of Catholic Bishops said the cartoon was ‘provocative’, ‘condemnable’ and aimed at humiliating Christian religious symbols.