Even as BR Ambedkar's 127th birth anniversary was celebrated with great zeal across India, a few places saw protests Saturday.
In Gujarat's Vadodara, a few members of the Dalit community took to cleansing Ambedkar's statue with milk as soon as Union minister Maneka Gandhi and some BJP leaders left the area after paying floral tributes.
A Dalit leader said they poured milk on the statue as the presence of Gandhi and the other BJP leaders had "polluted" the atmosphere, reported PTI.
Gandhi, the women and child development minister, is in Vadodara to attend a few events on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti.
The incident took place in GEB Circle area on Race Course after Gandhi visited along with BJP MP Ranjanben Bhatt, city mayor Bharat Dangar, BJP MLA Yogesh Patel, and others.
However, according to Thakor Solanki, general secretary of the SC/ST Employees Union of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, he and other members of the Dalit community had gathered there first to pay their tributes.
"We told the police that since we had gathered there much before the BJP leaders came, it was our right to pay tributes first. However, police prevented us from garlanding the statue stating that as per the protocol, it was the mayors right. This angered our members," PTI quoted Solanki as saying.
Solanki and the Dalit community members started raising slogans against them, which soon took a violent turn when an argument broke out between them and the police personnel. Fortunately, the matter was brought under control and at around 9 am, Gandhi and the other BJP leaders garlanded the statue and left the venue.
After her departure, the members of the community washed the statue with milk and water. "The statue and the atmosphere in the GEB circle area was polluted after the arrival of Gandhi and other BJP leaders. Therefore, we cleansed Ambedkar's statue with milk and water after it was garlanded by the BJP leaders," Solanki added.
However, Maneka Gandhi and the BJP leaders were not the only ones, whose presence at the venue was unwelcomed and protested.
Jivraj Chauhan, the general secretary of the SC/ST cell of BJPs state unit, was also gheraoed by the Dalit members. They shouted slogans at Chauhan forcing him to leave the venue.
In a similar incident, Congress workers in Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh also washed a statue of Ambedkar, with milk as a presence of a BJP leader at the spot "polluted" the area.
"The statue and the atmosphere in the park had turned polluted after BJP Satish Gautam sat here for fast yesterday. So this had to be done," a Congress leader told ANI.