AHMEDABAD - A mob vandalised a joint exhibition by acclaimed Pakistani and Indian artists in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, Times of India reported on Saturday.

The show, which featured works by 11 Pakistani and six Indian artists at the Amdavad ni Gufa gallery, aimed to “showcase the development in art and artists of both countries for more than 60 years” but was cut short when over a dozen men stormed the exhibition and tore down everything from paintings to windowpanes. According to the Hindustan Times, the men were allegedly associated with the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajarang Dal organisations.

Calling it a ‘mindless act of cowardice’, exhibition organiser Ravindra Maradia said, “On the first day, a local artist did object to inclusion of works by Pakistani artists. But he was civil in the way he communicated his displeasure. I respect differences in opinion, but why this? Why should they damage an art gallery? They did not even spare the works of Indian artists. I have suffered a loss of not less than Rs 10 lakh.”

One of Pakistan’s top artists Mansoor Rahi, whose works were on display, said “We are sad but this wouldn’t deter the artists from either country who will continue to share their works.”

Around 20 people were involved in the vandalism at the gallery, witnesses said.

“How can paintings of Pakistani artists be allowed to be on display here when that country is beheading and killing our soldiers, waging a proxy war,” VHP Gujarat unit general secretary Ranchhod Bharvad told PTI.

Evading a question on whether VHP activists had ransacked the gallery and torn paintings, he said, “Our workers went there and registered a strong protest.”

Ravindra Maradia said, “Some people came and vandalised the exhibition. I don’t know if they were from VHP or Bajrang Dal, but I am sure that they were anti-social elements.” Amdavad ni Gufa is an art gallery established jointly by the late MF Husain and noted architect BV Doshi. Seventeen paintings were on display since August 13, including 11 by Pakistani artists. “The purpose of this exhibition was to showcase the development in art and artists of both countries for more than 60 years,” Maradia said. A complaint was registered at the Gujarat University police station, he said.