Political leaders, intellectuals and artists in India kept silent when right-wing outfits targeted him, legendary painter MF Husain says "with deep pain" in his heart.
"I still love India. But India doesn't need me. I am saying this with deep pain in heart," Husain told Gulf Madhyamam, Kerala-based Malayalam daily Madhyamam's Doha edition, in an interview.
"India is my motherland. I can't hate my motherland. But India rejected me. Then why should I stay in India?" the 95-year-old painter said in his first interview after accepting Qatar citizenship.
"When Sangh Parivar outfits targeted me, all kept silent. No one, including political leadership, artists or intellectuals came forward to speak for me. But I know the fact that 90 per cent of the people of India love me. They are with me," he said.
"Only 10 per cent of people, including some politicians, are against me," Husain said.
Husain has dozens of lawsuits against him across the country for his paintings of goddesses that some Hindus find sacrilegious. The artist has been living abroad as a fugitive since 2006.
He said he was not worried as people across the world love him.
"India's continuing governments could not protect me. So, it is very difficult for me to stay in such a country. Politicians are eyeing only votes."
"Now, they are asking me to come back. I was in exile...There was no one to speak for me. No governments recalled me. Now they are asking me to return after one country offered me citizenship. How can I trust a political leadership that refused to protect me?" he said.
"Is there any surety that I would be given protection in India?" Husain asked.
He stressed that the cases against him went against an artist's self-expression, and maintained that he did not want to hurt anyone's sentiments.
"It is a move against art and the artist's self-expression. I never intended to hurt anyone's sentiments through the art," he said.
"I only expressed my soul's creativity through art. Art's language is universal language. People who love it beyond all narrow viewpoints are my strength," he said.
"I enjoy complete freedom in Qatar. Now Qatar is my place. Here no one controls my freedom of expression. I am very happy here," he said.
Husain added that he would visit India, if he gets the opportunity.