Goa festival: Assam poets condemn censuring of artworks

Representative image.

‘Miyah’ poets from Assam, whose works were barred from an exhibition at the ongoing Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, have expressed deep disappointment and have blamed “political suppression” for the debarment of their work. 

Citing a technical glitch, exhibits of poets Ashraful Hussain and Hafiz Ahmed, which were a part of an exhibition segment curated by well known contemporary artist Sudarshan Shetty, were mysteriously kept out of bounds for public viewing on Wednesday, reportedly on account of oblique references to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the artwork. 

“It is not a technical glitch, it is political suppression,” Hussain told reporters. 

“It was our fundamental right and it has been violated. I heard about the development on Thursday morning and I am deeply disappointed. This is not a technical glitch,” Ahmed told DH over the phone. 

“The poetry was essentially about our anguish over NRC and the activity happening around the country,” Ahmed also said.  

Miyah verse is a unique contemporary Assamese genre of poetry captures the angst of discrimination towards Assamese Muslims.

Several display screens broadcasting verses of Miyah poetry by Scheduled Caste poets and some others from Northeast— articulating the anxieties faced by the Muslim community in the region, which is most affected by protests against the CAA and the NRC— was suddenly off-limits for viewing on Wednesday, the fourth day of the festival. 

Reacting to the move by the festival organisers to keep some of his artworks out of bounds for public viewing, Mangalore-born Shetty, in a statement issued here, has expressed pain and has bemoaned the lack of freedom in art spaces.

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