The Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) is trying to evict a group of powerful artists, who have allegedly “contravened the rules and regulations governing the Garhi in East of Kailash here by overstaying.”

As these city-based artists have been allegedly “ignoring the need of space for dispossessed artists or those from tribal areas”, the Akademi has issued notices to 40 of them to vacate the studios.

“Thankfully, a majority of them have already vacated their premises. But some have gone to court. Garhi was set up so that artists could stay there for a specific period and then leave. But these artists have been misusing Garhi by indulging in politicking, rewarding their relatives or friends and showcasing their works at galleries. Even the Standing Committee of Parliament has questioned the rationale behind excluding folk and tribal artists at Garhi,” said an official of the Akademi to The Hindu.

To weed out these artists, the Akademi set up a committee, headed by Archaeological Survey of India Director-General Pravin Srivastav, to inquire into the complaints.

“The LKA represents the entire country. We cannot allow a situation in which artists, living in tribal areas and small towns, are denied an opportunity to showcase their work at galleries. Since 1980s, things have started deteriorating at the LKA and they have been promoting artists living in metropolitan cities,” said the official.

During a meeting in May last year, the committee set by the Akademi had issued letters to the General Council members. But the artists refused to attend, the official said. “Since they did not reply, we issued a public notice on January 11. Through its order dated January 7, 2014, the LKA under clause 17 (11) of the Akademi Constitution censured the officials concerned.”

Several artists had a different take on the issue. National Award-winner Amitava Bhowmick told The Hindu he had been staying at Garhi since 1981 when he was given a grant by the Akademi.

“It is totalitarianism on the part of the Akademi. I am a litigant as I am against the language used by the Akademi. I cannot be described as an illegal occupant because I have been paying my rent. We want elections of the General Council to be held.”

Criticising the Akademi’s move, Artist Jawed Shahid, an assistant professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, said the Akademi was harassing him and other senior artists. “I cannot shift sculptors from the Garhi to my residence because my wife would not allow me.”

More In: National | News | Delhi