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Statue vandalism: Ambedkar, Gandhi statues defaced

Vandals have targeted statues since Monday, when a statue of Russian communist icon Vladimir Lenin was toppled in Tripura’s Belonia, just days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended the 25-year Left Front rule in the state.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2018 23:36 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram/Kolkata
Statue vandalism,Ambedkar statue vandalised,Gandhi statue defaced
In Thaliparambha in north Kerala’s Kannur district, vandals hurled stones and bottles, damaging the spectacles and a garland on the Gandhi statue.(HT Photo)

Statues of BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi were attacked by vandals in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, state police said on Thursday. They were the latest in a spate of attacks on statues across India this week that have been widely condemned.

A bust of Dalit icon Ambedkar was found splashed with red paint in north Chennai’s Tiruvottiyur on Thursday morning by shopkeepers in the area. A local police officer said the police was checking footage from closed-circuit television cameras positioned in the vicinity, adding that the incident likely took place late on Wednesday.

“We will nab the culprits once their identity is established,” the officer said.

The incident came two days after a statue of Dravidian icon EV Ramasamy, aka Periyar, was vandalised after an inflammatory Facebook post by a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader. The politician, H Raja, has disowned the comments, which triggered widespread political protests in Tamil Nadu.

In Thaliparambha in north Kerala’s Kannur district, vandals hurled stones and bottles, damaging the spectacles and a garland on the Gandhi statue, police said. The attack was noticed on Thursday morning. A senior police officer said they identified a person from the CCTV cameras installed in the vicinity and efforts are on to catch him.

Vandals have targeted statues since Monday, when a statue of Russian communist icon Vladimir Lenin was toppled in Tripura’s Belonia, just days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended the 25-year Left Front rule in the state. Busts of Ambedkar in Uttar Pradesh, Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Kolkata and Periyar in Tamil Nadu have since been desecrated.

In Kolkata, where a Mookerjee statue was damaged allegedly by students on Wednesday, the police and supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress prevented an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to cleanse the statue. A few hundred supporters of the BJP and state party president Dilip Ghosh were stopped about 400 metres from the statue and some party workers were arrested.

“We are giving time to the state administration till 5 pm today to announce by when the damaged statue will be restored. Otherwise, we will start an agitation throughout the state from Friday,” Ghosh said before leaving the spot.

At another programme in the city, chief minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the desecration of Mookerjee’s bust and said it did not represent the culture of Bengal. “Police have arrested them (the culprits) promptly in Bengal. They will be dealt with sternly,” said Banerjee. “Some may support Lenin, some may support Ho Chi Minh, some may support Karl Marx, some may support Syama Prasad Mookerjee. One may not agree with them, but why should anyone show disrespect to them?”

All major political parties have distanced themselves from the attacks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condemned the incidents and warned of a crackdown on vandals.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 23:13 IST