Cartoonist from Assam in Controversy for his Anti Citizenship Bill Cartoons; he says this is ‘Reality’
GUWAHATI: Nituparna Rajbongshi, the cartoonist from Assam is once again in news, and this time for his hard-hitting Anti Citizenship Bill cartoons.
Using the #WeOpposeCitizenshipAmendmentBill2016, Nituparna has been creating a series of cartoons since Dec 31st 2018 to raise his voice against the bill which is creating quite a commotion among the people of Assam.
In an exclusive conversation with G Plus, the artist tried to explain the cartoon works in question and why he feels those were justified.
The artist started the series with two New Year cartoons, dated Dec 31st 2018 and Jan 1st 2019, where in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were seen wishing the Hindi Bangladeshi people with a 'lotus' flower, which portrays the BJP party's support and love for the Hindu Bangldeshis. On the other hand, the Assamese community through a human figure was shown trapped inside a liquor bottle, which showcases how oblivious the community as a whole was of the near future and the fate that waits.
In the second cartoon, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was termed a 'fool' in place of 'phul' (flower) and was handed over as a New Year gift to the Hindu Bangladeshi.
In several other cartoons, the artist portrayed nude skits of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, which have drawn strong reactions from the people of the state. In one of the most controversial cartoons, Sarbananda, in a naked caricature has been shown holding a Hindu Bangladesh on his palm, and on the other hand clenching an Assamese person. The cartoon also shows a lotus flower (BJP party symbol) instead of his genitals. The artist has termed the cartoon as 'Sarbanagna' which translates to 'completely naked.'
In the words of Rajbongshi, his cartoons are the outburst of the angst that he as a citizen of Assam has in connection with the whole Citizenship Amendment Bill, and he feels there is no hard and fast decorum that he needs to follow while putting his feelings and emotions into his work. To this, he adds that it is the matter of utmost disgrace that members of different organizations had to opt for naked protest to preserve our own identity. "It is sad that these incidents are hapening under the leadership of the person whom Assam voted to power as a "jatiya nayak." When Assam brought Sonowal to power, it did not matter whether he was from AGP, BJP, Congress or AASU member. What mattered for the people of the state was the fact that he assured that the identity of Assam, Assamese language and Assamese culture would be safeguarded."
According to the artist, even today, Assamese people are expecting that the leader, who was chosen unanimously by the state, would raise a voice and speak for the Assamese community. But instead of this, Assamese people are being forced to turn naked in public. "Can there be anything worse and upsetting than this?" the artist questioned.
In another cartoon work, 'Axomi Aai' has been shown being stabbed to death by Sarbananda Sonowal and Narendra Modi. As soon as the cartoon was updated on social media, several people raised dissatisfaction against the artist. However, Nituparna has a complete different view for his art piece. "Cartoon is like a mirror. You see what is true. In the present time and situation, aren't we all killing Axomi Aai in some way or the other. There is violence, there is hatred. What I have drawn is the ultimate truth of the hour. I am an artist, I cannot draw half baked truth." he said.
Nituparna has been facing severe backlash in connection with his art works in the recent times. Soon after a Digboi based youth (name withdrawn) had shared the cartoon on his social media timelines, a BJP leader who goes by the name of Mr Dutta along with other BJP workers and supporters filed an FIR against the youth as well as the artist at Tinsukia Police Station. However, considering the Right to Expression, the youth had to be released soon.
For Nituparna, cartoons are the mouthpiece of the commoners. They speak out the common man's agony, anger, sorrow, happiness in a very clear and vivid manner. Cartoon, for the artist, was never an entertaining art form and never will. This satirical art form has always prompted him to raise the voice on behalf of the society against everything that is unfair, corrupt and dishonest.