A statue of Dr BR Ambedkar — the father of the Indian constitution and a Dalit icon — was beheaded in Meerut's Mawana on Wednesday, March 7. This was the latest in a series of statues of Indian leaders being attacked over the past few days.
It came after six people were arrested in Kolkata following allegations that they vandalized a bust of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, who founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh — the precursor to the BJP.
Mere hours earlier, a statue of Tamil social activist EV Ramasamy — better known as Periyar — in Tirupattur in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu in the wake of a post on the Facebook page of BJP national secretary H Raja. The attack on the statue had been followed by a petrol bomb being hurled at a BJP office in Coimbatore.
These cases were preceded by people — allegedly BJP supporters — pulling down a Lenin statue in Tripura on March 5, after the BJP came to power following the state Assembly election.
Dalits in Mawana in Meerut's UP were up in arms on Wednesday after the Ambedkar statue was found vandalized. They agitated on the roads, which led to traffic snarls on the streets.
The Mawana station in-charge was quoted by the Times of India as saying: "There was a statue near village pond on the roadside in village Mawana Khurd. We were informed about the desecration at 8 in the morning. We are waiting for the police complaint after which FIR will be filed. Meanwhile, we have already installed a new statue."
Reports on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the issue and condemned the actions.
BJP #WestBengal condemns barbaric act of vandalising statue of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Bharat Keshri's founder Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee at Keoratola Mohasoshan, Kolkata. We demand very strong action against culprits: Sayantan Basu, General Secretary, WB BJP pic.twitter.com/3B8UTsA3oI— ANI (@ANI) March 7, 2018
While the CPM slammed the BJP in Tamil Nadu for vandalizing Periyar's statue, the BJP in West Bengal condemned the act by the CPM and demanded strict action against the accused.
Referring to the attack on the BJP office in TN, the police officials said the CCTV footage showed three-four men arriving on two bikes and hurling petrol bombs at the BJP office in Coimbatore's Gandhipuram. No one was injured in the attack, the police officials added.
Arrests made after Periyar statue vandalized
On Tuesday, the statue of social activist, politician and Dravidian movement convenor Periyar's statue was allegedly vandalized by two men in Vellore. The nose and glasses of the statue were damaged in the process, soon after which they were held by the locals who handed them over to the police.
The attack came after a Facebook page on H Raja said Periyar's statues should also meet the same fate as that of Lenin's in Tripura. Raja claimed an administrator of the page had posted this without taking consent from him.
While one of the miscreants, Muthuraman, is believed to be a BJP member, another person has been identified by the police as Francis and is believed to be a CPI activist, CNN News18 reported.
The Tamil Nadu BJP has reportedly expelled Muthuraman.
The offending Facebook post
The post on H Raja's page had talked of an earlier act by BJP supporters in Tripura, where the statue of revolutionary Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin's was vandalized.
The Facebook post read:
"Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection has India with Communists? Lenin's statue has been removed in Tripura. Today it is Lenin's statue in Tripura, tomorrow it will be the statue of caste fanatic EVR Ramasamy".
After widespread condemnation of Raja's post, he deleted it and reportedly said someone else had posted it on his page, NDTV reported on Wednesday.
Raja said later that the administrator who wrote the post had also been "removed."
BJP defends its leader
Raja was defended by the BJP's Narayanan Tirupathi, who said: "More than 99.9 percent of people in Tamil Nadu are spiritual. EVR's statue carries the message that whoever worships God are barbarians, whoever preaches God are rascals and whosoever keep faith in God are fools."
He added: "Hindu outfits have for long demanded the removal of these statues but this has not been done till date. Hence, H Raja's outburst. The words may have been harsh but the intention is keeping in mind the majority of the population."
Stalin demands Raja's arrest
Slamming Raja for the post on Lenin and Periyar, TN Opposition DMK's acting president MK Stalin demanded Raja's arrest.
Stalin said: "No one dare touch EVR's statue. H Raja made those comments to incite violence. He has been repeatedly doing this. He should be arrested and the Goondas Act slapped on him."
Meanwhile, several social media users and activists slammed the BJP, expressing their rage over the statues of iconic leaders being attacked.
@OfficeOfRG another friendly lesson in politics from @MamataOfficial | no lenin, Stalin, Marx statues have been harmed in bengal after her victory over CPI-M after 35 years. Yesterday, a SP Mukherjee statue got vandalised in Bengal. This is how you give a message.— Ritwik Agrawal (@ritwik_agrawal) March 7, 2018
I am glad that better senses have prevailed on the Prime Minister & he has called out the vandalising of statues from Lenin to SP Mukherjee as Vandalism. His party’s paid minions were mindlessly terming it as Revolution, Resistance, Fall of Berlin Wall bla bla— Sid (@sidmtweets) March 7, 2018
Less than 24 hours after damaged the #LeninStatue in #Tripura, another BJP member #Muthuraman damaged the glasses and the nose of the #PeriyarStatue in #TamilNadu . Muthuraman's bike was also seized from the spot. #BJPkaGundaRaj @OfficeOfRG @AshokTanwar_INC @divyaspandana pic.twitter.com/37Wuw3y35P— Pawan Yadav (Rewari) (@pawanjhawat) March 6, 2018
Modi ji tell your boys to destroy the statue of manu, not lenin or Periyar. Mind well, exploited dalits will always cherish the legacy of aambedkar, lenin, periyar, Phule and some day they will definitely destroy the manu-murti at Rajasthan high court.— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) March 7, 2018
And so it begins - First they came for Ambedkar, then they came for Lenin, and now they have come for Periyar. Periyar Statue Vandalised In Tamil Nadu's Vellore After BJP Leader's Facebook Post. Next they'll demolish Gandhi, replace with Godse! https://t.co/qreL4ISlyh— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) March 6, 2018
Sources : The people who vandalised Periyar statue in Tirupattur, allegedly are innocuous drunkards, barging out of a TASMAC outlet. Conspicuously both belong to the same community. I would like my guru @HRajaBJP to reveal their community for the benefit of majority.— Savukku_Shankar (@savukku) March 6, 2018
Let's see if BJP has the guts to expel the dirty 'echchai"raja.. and I challenge this sort.. give a date to break the statue of #Periyar..I will be there.. let me see if you the guts to surpass me and many like me..even your shadow cannot touch the statue of #Periyar..— khushbusundar (@khushsundar) March 6, 2018