February 26, 2010 11:31:51 pm
Living in self-imposed exile abroad since 2005 after a spate of legal cases and angry protests from Hindutva outfits over his paintings of Hindu goddesses,Maqbool Fida Husain,one of Indias best known artists,has decided to surrender his Indian passport after being offered Qatari nationality by the royal family.
Qatars Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Queen Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned met the flamboyant painter in Qatar recently and asked him to live there. For the last two years,Husain has been working on a project sponsored by the Qatar government. He has been dividing time between London,Dubai and Qatar.
Asked why he decided to take up Qatari nationality,Husain told The Indian Express that he did not wish to go into the reasons. I,the Indian origin painter M F Husain at 95,have been honoured by Qatar nationality.
His lawyer Akhil Sibal said even if Husain accepted Qatari citizenship,it will not make any difference to any case or court-related matter the painter is embroiled in.
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There are three cases around Husain at present. One is in Rajkot where the court is inquiring whether it should frame charges. The second case is in Delhi where despite the landmark judgment by the High Court,Delhi Police has not closed the investigation. It is neither on nor closed. The third case is the one Supreme Court transferred to Delhi from Pandharpur in Maharashtra which happens to be Husains birthplace, Sibal said.
Asked about Husain,Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said: He is the pride of India. I would like him to feel safe and secure in India. Home Secretary G K Pillai said the government was ready to provide security to Husain if he planned to return to India.
The BJP said it had no issues with Husain being offered citizenship by Qatar. Every person has the right to live anywhere. So we dont want to blame Husain if he accepts this offer of citizenship made by Qatar, said BJP leader S S Ahluwalia.
Husain has been in self-exile ever since he came under attack from Hindu outfits for his alleged depiction of Bharat Mata and other gods and goddesses in the nude. Cases were filed against him in courts across India. In 2008,the Supreme Court refused to initiate criminal proceedings against him for allegedly hurting public sentiments.
With ENS in Delhi
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