Dubai: MF Husain may have
quit his Indian citizenship, but he does not want to snap his
links with the country of his birth and has applied for an
Overseas Citizenship identity.
"India is my motherland and I simply cannot leave that
country. What I have surrendered is just a piece of paper,"
Husain, revered by many as India's Picasso, was quoted by the
local media as saying, a day after he surrendered his Indian
passport in Doha.
"I will continue to travel to India and have applied
for an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card as Indian law does
not permit its citizens to hold dual citizenship. I'm here to
fulfil my professional commitments and I'm grateful that Qatar
came to my support," said the 95-year-old painter, whose
decision to quit his Indian citizenship has caused dismay and
cynicism in equal measures among Indians in the Gulf.
"It's a great loss for the country, especially the
so-called secular government, who could not protect a national
treasure for exercising freedom of expression," said Jyotika
Khemchandani, a marketing professional here.
"It's a shame on Indian democracy. Husain sahib has
been denied justice and freedom of expression. Indian
government should apologise to him for being ignorant about
his security and his rights," said Munawwar Ali Khan,
assistant professor of biotechnology at a local university.
However, an official at the Indian embassy, who choose
to remain anonymous, expressed regret over the entire episode.
"I have seen some of his controversial paintings on
the web. I just don't understand what was the need for him to
do such paintings. The entire situation could have been
avoided," he said.
Another Indian national, Iftikhar Ahmad, said that
Husain's decision should be seen in the context of the hassles
he might have faced as a resident in India.
"Qatari citizenship is nothing but an enabling factor
to his creative urge and in no way dilutes his Indianness.
Artists by nature need patrons and Qatar is good at that," he
Asked if the Indian mission had advised him against
surrendering his passport in the wake of Home Minister P
Chidambaram's recent plea for him to return to his home
country, Husain replied in the negative.
"She (Indian ambassador to Qatar Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa)
is such a gracious lady. I could read her pain from her face
when I surrendered the document," he said.
First Published: Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 14:25