Vandalising statues of dalit icons is not new – It happened during the BSP regime also.
The reason has been simple: Political parties’ association lends the statues of icons political colour which simultaneously makes them the object of political likes and dislikes and a convenient target of political vendetta.
The police data reveals that such incidents increased during the past five years have now become the symbol of venting one’s ire.
But, what has become the cause of concern now is that such damaging protests are settling down as a trend.
At least 173 incidents of statue damage, disputes and defacing were reported between May 2007 and August 2012, according to the police records.
The report surprisingly shows that around 165 incidents in 54 districts were reported during previous regime of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) having dalit ideology between 15 May 2007 and 28 February 2012.
Retired director general of police (DGP) KL Gupta says the trend of targeting statues has increased during past 5-6 years, as the statues are now been associated with different political parties.
He says the statues are one of the main reasons behind the law and order problem in the present scenario.
He foresees the trend to grow intense by the day and proposes immediate steps to cut it short before it becomes a serious law and order challenge. The police record shows around eight incidents, including demolition of former chief minister Mayawati’s statue in Gomti Nagar on July 26— which triggered eight back-to-back incidents of damaging different statues in July.
They led to a serious law and order problem. Recently, a group of Muslim youths damaged statues of Buddha, Mahaveer and elephant, the party symbol of the BSP, at the city parks during protest over Assam and Myanmar violence on August 17 also caused law and order problem across the state..
Political science professor SK Dwivedi says, “The icons like Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia are no legacy of a particular community or political party. They are national heroes. But, installing their statues at every nook and corner makes no sense. Besides, if you are unable to take care of the statues is like an insult to the icons.”
Around 29 incidents were reported after the BSP came to power in May 2007. The number reduced to 25 incidents in 2008.
But, it shot up to 32 in 2009 and 30 in 2010. About 41 incidents were reported during 2011 when the state geared up for the assembly elections.
In 2012, at least 16 incidents have been reported so far—eight statues targeted before the change of guard while eight others were demolished after the SP held the state’s reins.