An Indian artist has been assaulted for displaying paintings of nude women in a Delhi gallery.

Pranava Prakash said that five men barged into the Espace Alternative gallery in the Noida district on the outskirts of the city on Sunday, blasting that the exhibition of naked pictures were not in accordance with Indian cultural values.

Prakash told the Agence France-Presse news agency: Five men came in on Sunday and started yelling at me, saying, 'Your paintings are against Indian culture, we cannot tolerate them.' They slapped me twice, threw me to the floor and then began pulling down the paintings, damaging three of my pictures.

The nude paintings include depictions of Bollywood star Vidya Balan, Pakistani actress Veena Malik and model Poonam Pandey.

Pandey’s depiction featured words written upon her breasts, while a Pakistani flag adorns Malik’s back.

Prakash added: “India is an inclusive democracy; I just don't understand how such things can happen. There is a certain section of people who think they alone are the custodians of Indian culture, and anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy.

While the identity of the assailants is unknown, extreme right-wing Hindu nationalist groups have been known to protest and even attack manifestations of things they consider vulgar and in direct opposition to traditional Indian culture.

Many liberal and secular Indians are anticipating that hard-line Hindus will again seek to disrupt the Valentine's Day holiday as they have I previous years.

The attack in Delhi follows controversy over threats received by the writer Salman Rushdie from militant Muslims in India after he was scheduled to appear at the Jaipur literary festival. Rushdie backed out from program due to security worries. Rushdie earned the wrath of Islamic fundamentalists worldwide by authoring a book over twenty years ago called “The Satanic Verse,” which they found insulting to Islam. The Ayatollah of Iran even issued a fatwa – a death sentence – upon Rushdie.

“Satanic Verses” remains banned in India, which has at least 100-million Muslims.