Artists Against Communalism (1990–1993)
This folder comprises of multiple initiatives in the early 1990s where artists voiced their protest against the rising communal violence in the country. The academic and artistic community and youth played a positive role in through activities like Fine art exhibitions, plays, protest marches, etc. Many open public discussions were held in 1990 alongside activities including a poster campaign and pamphlets highlighting the dangers of communalism. In January 1991, at a daylong seminar at Central School Harni, 'Vadodara Sheher Shanti Abhiyan' was launched and a large number of artists and students became its members. Soon an artists’ initiative, Samata, was launched. Samata and Abhiyan started to organize peace marches and human chains in different parts of the city. Other organizations like Vadodara Kamdaar Union, Komvaad Virodhi Sankalan Samiti, and Sahiyar joined these events. Parivartan, a theatre group, also staged a street play on communalism at Faculty of Fine Arts. Meanwhile, in response to the SAHMAT initiative Artists Against Communalism, volunteers and activists observed a 12 hour fast on 30 January 1991. Many artists painted banners which were displayed around Gandhi’s statue at Gandhi Nagar Grih (Town Hall). Events like all-religion prayer meetings, street-plays and a Sufi music concert by an eminent Dhrupad vocalist Ustad Fariduddin Dagar also took place. The major event in 1992 was the touring exhibition mounted by SAHMAT tited 'Images and words: Artists Against Communalism' comprising of paintings, photographs, poems and statements by eminent artists across the country held in Baroda between 5-6 March which was hosted by Samata and Abhiyan. Some of the participating artists were Nagji Patel, Bhupen Khakhar, Rekha Rodwittiya, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Vasudevan Akkitham, Purshottam Dhumal, M. Sasidharan, Nilima Sheikh, Surendran Nair, Nikhileshwar Barua, Jitendra Badni, Raj Kumar Mazindar, Shantamani M., Kosha Shah, Atul Padia and Mithun. Samata also conducted activities like slogan and painting competition for children on the theme of communal harmony.