Mangal Pandey desecrated | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Mangal Pandey desecrated

It takes the state PWD only around 150 minutes to remove the sole memorial to Mangal Pandey, reports Drimi Chaudhuri.

kolkata Updated: May 08, 2007 00:14 IST

For 150 years he has been a national hero for sparking off the first battle of independence against the British rulers. And it took the state public works department (PWD) only around 150 minutes to remove the sole memorial to Mangal Pandey in the city.

Others to suffer the same fate are freedom fighters Benioy-Badal-Dinesh and Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, one of the most illustrious Chief Ministers of the state.

“We are gearing up to construct the underground parking plaza in front of the Writers’ Buildings around Lal Dighi. Several statues and busts in the vicinity, including that of Mangal Pandey, Benoy-Badal-Dinesh and Bidhan Chandra Roy have been removed. We will reinstall these after the parking plaza is complete,” PWD minister Kshiti Goswami said.

In the meantime, these would be kept aside on one corner of the state administrative headquarters, he added.

On early Monday morning, Mangal Pandey Minar and the other statues were uprooted and set aside for reinstallation about two years later, Goswami said.

Mangal Pandey Minar stands a bit over eight feet with a marble plaque in remembrance of the martyr on the footpath opposite Writers’ Buildings.

Accoridng to a senior PWD engineer, however, while the initial plan was to re-install the memorial where it stood till Sunday, the department is considering other spots in and around the city to re-install these memorials.

“The memorials could be set up somewhere close to Maidan instead of its present site. There are chances that with the Lal Dighi refurbishment plan, installing the memorials at the same spot two years later might seem inappropriate with the local ambience,” the official commented.

Removal of the Mangal Pandey memorial comes barely a month after the 150th anniversary of his martyrdom on April 8, 1857 and not all are happy with what they consider is ‘desecration’, of a hero worshipped by millions across the coutnry for his role in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

While Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly and Trinamool Congress MLA Partha Chatterjee said he would look into the matter and take necessary steps, Pradesh Congress Committee working president Pradip Bhattacharya severely criticised the removal.

“This is shocking. The state government does not seem to have any respect for our national heroes or the glorious chapter of Indian history they represent.

Although we do not have plans to launch a protest movement over the issue, we will definitely register strong protest with Goswami and the governement,” he said.

The senior Congress leader also alleged that the state government was partial towards foreign stalwarts like Karl Marx and VI Lenin because of ideological reasons and not to Indian luminaries like Pandey.

While the state government might stick to its plans and re-install Pandey’s memorial, many are not hopeful given the government’s negligence of Mangal Pandey during the 150th celebrations of the Sepoy Mutiny in March and Pandey’s martyrdom in April as no programme was organsied on the state levl to mark the occasions, either in the city or at Barrackpore, where Pandey was hanged.

Mandgal Pandey is remembered for shooting the first shots on March 29, 1857, against a British superior officer, which came to be recognized as the event that sparked India’s First War of Independence.

Although little is known of his life and historians have often fought over his place of birth and his motivation, the soldier of the 34th Native Infantry would always be revered for the momentous incident that led to a nationwide movement.