Indian Painter Set To Return From Exile

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Maqbool Fida Husain, one of India’s top-selling artists, plans to return home from exile after the Supreme Court in New Delhi threw out a petition calling for his trial on criminal charges including obscenity.

“I will be coming very soon,” Mr. Husain, 92, said in a telephone interview from London today. “There is no fixed time to come back. The dignity of Indian contemporary art has been upheld by the decision of the Supreme Court.”

Mr. Husain has been living in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London since January 2006, after receiving threats from right-wing Hindu groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal.

The nation’s top court dismissed a petition calling for criminal proceedings against the painter on September 8 for pictures of Bharat Mata (mother India) and Hindu gods and goddesses that the groups said were disrespectful.

“There are many such paintings and sculptures and some of them are in temples,” said the statement from the Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan. The bench upheld the ruling of the Delhi High Court, which had quashed proceedings against Mr. Husain, saying the “charges were baseless.”

Mr. Husain said he did not fear religious animosity against him in India, as it was a view held by a “very few people,” and there was no ban on him coming back.

“I am not coming back with a triumphant view,” Mr. Husain said. “I am coming back as a humble citizen of my country. I am coming back without any fanfare.”

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