Renowned Indian artist MF Husain, under attack from hardline Hindus for his paintings of nude Hindu goddesses, has been offered Qatari nationality.

The artist made the announcement in The Hindu newspaper. It is not clear whether he will accept the honour.

Since 2006, 95-year-old Mr Husain has been living in Dubai and in London.

The Hindu said that his “impending change of nationality brings to a close one of the sorriest chapters in independent India’s secular history”.

Correspondents say that Mr Husain – who has been forced to flee the country – is one of India’s most pre-eminent artists.

In 2006 he apologised for a painting in which he represented the country as a nude goddess. In the mid-1990s there were huge protests in Mumbai (Bombay) after he painted a whole series of nude Hindu goddesses.

Hindu nationalist groups accused the artist of hurting their religious sentiments and defiling their religion.

Mr Husain estimates that there are 900 cases against him in various courts of India. He says that he has been harassed by mobs in the country and his exhibitions have been vandalised.

The Hindu says that the artist did not apply for Qatari nationality – it was conferred upon him by the emirate’s ruling family.

“The artist gave me this news from Dubai by reading out the few lines he had written on a black-and-white line drawing that he released to The Hindu,” editor N Ram wrote in a signed article in newspaper.

“I, the Indian origin painter MF Husain at 95, have been honoured by Qatar nationality,” the artist wrote above a sketch of a horse, the leitmotif of much of his work.

Mr Husain went to live abroad in 2006 to escape the various obscenity charges he faced in India.

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