London: MF Husain might have died Qatari citizen, but the legendary artist had maintained in one of his last interviews that he was neither on self-exile nor had he lost faith in India`s democratic system.
Husain, who acquired the citizenship of Qatar in 2010, was an Overseas Citizen of India, a category of citizenship introduced by the Indian government in 2005 to provide various facilities to foreign citizens of Indian origin.
In his last interview to BBC Hindi in October 2010, the 95-year-old painter had said that he left India in 2005 (not in 2006 as widely reported), mainly to pursue three major projects, and not because of the controversy caused by some paintings upsetting sections of Hindu society.
"I am not in self-exile", the artist, who was one of the pioneers of modern art in India, had said firmly.
Insisting that he believed in India`s democracy and legal system, Husain said he would not have bothered to take the overseas citizenship of India if that were not the case.
"I am an overseas citizen of India. I can go anytime to India. The only thing I can`t do is vote; anyway I have never voted in my life. There is no ban on me going to India.
"There are more than 900 cases on me and for the last 12 years I have been paying my lawyer 60-70,000 rupees per month because I have not fled from Indian legal system. Every summons I get, my lawyer responds to it, he said. "It is wrong to say that I don`t have faith in India`s democratic system. Why would I have taken the overseas citizenship of India if I did not have faith in India`s democracy? I got the overseas Indian citizenship five days after getting the Qatar citizenship".
Husain had earlier said that his advancing age made it difficult for him to go about attending courts in different parts of India where cases were filed against him.
Reminding the interviewer that he left India in 2005, he said there was no controversy at the time.
He said: "I left India in 2005; then nothing of this (protests by Hindu activists) had happened. I wanted to do three major projects that I could not do in India, because I needed sponsors. I still deny it, I am not in exile".
"I don`t have a studio anywhere. I am like a folk painter, paint and move ahead".