A controversy erupted at the Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) in Jaipur and two artists were detained by the police, on Saturday, over exhibiting a plastic cow which was tied to a balloon and was floating at a height of 50 feet from the ground.

Half an hour after the plastic cow installation was displayed during the Third Jaipur Art Summit at JKK, some right-wing groups and NGOs reached the spot and asked the organisers to dismantle the art work made by artist Siddharth Kararwal.

The police from the Bajaj Nagar police station area, under which the JKK premises fall, also entered the Art Summit and asked the artists to “take down the plastic cow”.

Speaking to the mediapersons, the Station House Officer (SHO) of the Bajaj Nagar police station Mahendra Gupta said, “This is not art.”

Mr. Gupta said that the art work was hurting the sentiments and sensibilities of some people and must be dismantled. Anish Ahluwalia and Chintan Upadhyay from the Sandarbh International Artist Residency were detailed by the police for three hours at the Bajaj Nagar police station.

SHO Mr Gupta, however, said that the artists were not detained and were taken to the police station only to be explained that some sections might create an issue out of the plastic cow art work and hence the art work needed to be dismantled immediately.

Mr Ahluwalia told The Hindu, “The plastic cow was made to propagate the message that animals, especially cows, were consuming plastic which is carelessly discarded the people and it proving to be detrimental to the animals.”

The two artists were released in the afternoon only after the organisers dismantled the installation.

Mr. Ahluwalia said, “It seems like we are a part of an authoritarian state where even if we make a toy and it is a cow people will object to it.”

Suraj Soni, the Jaipur coordinator of People for Animals, who objected to the art work said to The Hindu, “The [plastic] cow was tied to the balloon via its neck. I found it disrespectful because it looked like the cow had been hanged to death. Also, there was no slogan accompanying the art work and one could easily misconstrue the installation as a portrayal of cruelty on animals.”

Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties said to The Hindu, “Though the police is denying detaining the artists, it is still an issue of right to freedom of expression. An artist needs to express through art work of sorts and people need to be tolerant towards other people’s views.”