An exhibition at the India Art Fair, showcasing paintings inspired by the women of Shaheen Bagh and other Citizenship Amendment Act protests was brought to a halt after the Delhi police showed up at the stall, on Sunday (2nd February). 

The police arrived at the the NSIC Exhibition Ground in Okhla after a complaint was filed with regards to these paintings that were put on display. 

There were hand painted posters that carried images of people ‘together’ and there was a poster titled ‘Shaheen’ that highlighted the resilience of the women who are holding a silent protest at Shaheen Bagh for 50 days and counting.

Various posters by different artists were also tied together with threads that reflected the protests at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi.

Musicians also sang ‘Hum Dekhenge’ at the art fair and it was then, that the Delhi Police arrived and stalled the performance. While speaking to the Quint, Gargi Chandola, an artist who was part of the exhibition, said:

This is a festival of solidarity and celebrating women who have come out on the streets. No CAA, NRC or NPR has been mentioned. We just wrote slogans and songs on the imagery, which is beautiful and touching. One of the slogans was ‘Hum Ek Hain’ (We are one.) Our tears of emotion have turned into tears of disappointment.

Indraneel Roy, the musician who was singing Hum Dekhenge during the time of disruption said:

It’s very unfortunate. When the police arrived, we thought that at least, they would want to know what is written on the posters. The police said they had got three PCR Calls. The India Art Fair management should have supported the artists.

Myna Mukherjee, the curator for the exhibition that was cordoned off, was also upset by the attitude of the organisers and they didn’t speak up, she said:

India Art Fair organisers don’t seem to have a spine whatsoever. Police were more fair to us than the organiser folks. We deferred to the fair’s rules. There was no sloganeering. We talked of unity, resurgence and solidarity, and women’s leadership.

Some people on social media were also upset by this incident. Here’s what they had to say:

However, the fair’s organisers claimed that the exhibitors didn’t share details of the activities that were taking place in their booth. 

They further went on to say that the organisers were informed only after the police arrived at the venue. The art fair was held from 30th January to 2nd February 2020.