Two organisations allegedly ‘purified’ the statue of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia with ‘gangajal’ after former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi garlanded it in Bihar’s Supaul town, police said on Monday.
Police claimed to have arrested one person in connection with the incident that took place on Sunday. The incident brought into focus Manjhi’s claims of discrimination against Dalits in a state sharply divided on caste lines.
It is alleged that members of the RJD’s student wing and Lohia Vichar Manch, an organisation which professes to work for towards spreading the ideals of the socialist leader, were involved in the 'purification'.
Manjhi said that he was quite hurt with the incident as it was a disrespect to Ram Manohar Lohia. (HT Photo)
In August last year, Manjhi was left fuming after a temple in Madhubani was washed and purified after he visited it. The incident happened when he was the chief minister.
One of the persons who purified Lohia’s statue said, “Manjhi is not a socialist and he is trying to use socialist ideology for political gains.”
Manjhi, 70, told HT he was “hurt” by the incident as it tantamount to showing disrespect to a great leader who worked tirelessly against such “parochial mindsets”.
“I may or may not be a follower of the socialist ideology, but that is not the point. Every citizen has the right to pay respect to the nation’s great leaders. Whatever has happened is a reflection of perverted mindset and needs to be condemned in the strongest words,” said Manjhi.
He said Lohia’s ideas were relevant even more today than ever before due to such feelings of untouchability and hatred for the weaker sections.
Superintendent of police Pankaj Kumar Raj said one person has been arrested while search is on for remaining three, after an FIR was registered against them.
Lohia Vichar Manch’s Supual district chief Dukhi Lal Yadav said in a release that “Manjhi is a man hungry for power and hence has no moral rights to garland statue of Lohia.”
Manjhi, anointed as the chief minister in May last year, was virtually forced to relinquish the post in February after he refused to vacate the chair when his one-time mentor Nitish Kumar sought to return to the helm.
(With agency inputs)