Police are investigating the appearance of vinyl posters naming a railway overbridge in Alwar after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse amid a growing row over the glorification of the hardline Hindu activist, officials said on Wednesday.
Rajasthan authorities denied any involvement after posters with the names of Godse and Mangal Pandey, hero of the 1857 freedom struggle, were pasted on the foundation stones of two railway overbridges on Monday night.
Alwar district collector MP Swami said the posters were put up by unidentified people to create trouble and authorities would take immediate action.
“It was an unlawful act and we will take strict action. But these posters are not to be taken seriously. No one has the right to name a railway overbridge. A process has to be followed,” he said.
Superintendent of police Vikas Kumar said police had lodged an FIR against unidentified people under laws to prevent damage to public property.
Controversy erupted on social media following reports a plaque on the bridge described Godse as a nationalist, but officials said the controversial words were printed on posters and not embedded in cement.
Officials of the Alwar Urban Improvement Trust, which lodged a police complaint, said the posters were immediately removed.
The controversy comes against the backdrop of Hindu radical groups drumming up support to make an icon out of Godse since the BJP swept to power last May. Plans to build a Godse temple in Uttar Pradesh and BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj’s description of the Gandhi assassin as a patriot stirred angry public debate.
Alwar town authorities didn’t rule out the role of pranksters behind the posters, though the needle of suspicion pointed firmly at “unidentified” people trying to foment social unrest. “It was clearly an attempt to create trouble,” said Mahendra Lodha, secretary of the trust.
Informally called the Agrasen railway overbridge, it was completed about three months ago but hasn’t been formally opened yet.
Former Alwar MP Jitendra Singh of the Congress opened the bridge as a mark of protest when the Vasundhara Raje government was celebrating a year in office last December.
Singh accused the BJP of doublespeak on Wednesday, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using Gandhi’s name to promote his schemes while his party members were making a hero out of his assassin.
“This is an insult to the Father of the Nation. I hope the administration does a thorough probe and arrests the culprits,” he said.