2019 Kerala Lalithakala Academy awards for cartoon
2019 Kerala Lalithakala Academy awards for cartoonfacebook

The 2019 Kerala Lalithakala Academy award for cartoon has provoked a controversy, with the Catholic church saying that the award-winning cartoon by KK Subash has insulted religious symbols.

The controversy was sparked after the award was given to a cartoon published in Hasya Kairali magazine that depicted Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was accused of raping a nun. In the cartoon, an under garment is depcited in place of the insignia on the bishop's staff. 

The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) spokesperson Fr. Varghese Vallikattu said the cartoon disrespects the Christian community as it is unlawful and provocative in nature. He also asked the academy to apologise to the public for misusing the taxpayer's money on the award. He also demanded an apology to the Christian community. 

Vallikattu also took a dig at the Left Front government, accusing it of choosing the blasphemous cartoon for the award. 

Following the uproar, Kerala minister AK Balan said that religious sentiments have been hurt in the cartoon named as "Vishwasam Rakshathi" by cartoonist KK Subash. He announced in Delhi that the award jury had decided on the winning cartoon and the government had not interfered in it. However, in view of the allegations, the government would review the decision, the minister added. 

"Vishwasam Rakshathi" by cartoonist KK Subashfacebook

Kerala Cartoon Academy secretary Thomas Antony reacted to the issue on Facebook saying that the controversies over the award-winning cartoon was uncalled for. The cartoon was selected by a panel of Kerala's top cartoonists and it is the minimum courtesy to respect their decision, he said.  Issues like these will kill the idea behind the cartoon and the art will lose its meaning, he added.

However, the Lalithakala Academy has decided to review the award in the wake of the controversies, said the academy's secretary, Ponnyam Chandran.