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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Vandalism virus spreads, now poet’s statue defaced in Bengal

Red ink was smeared on the white statue of Michael Madhusudan Dutt in Raniganj.

kolkata Updated: Mar 10, 2018 16:27 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times
Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873) was one of the key figures of modern Bengali literature.
Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873) was one of the key figures of modern Bengali literature.(Photo: Wikipedia)

Unidentified persons defaced a statue of Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a prominent poet-playwright of Bengal, on Friday night in Bengal’s Raniganj town an incident that confirmed that the virus of vandalism is now engulfing persons not related to partisan politics.

Red ink was smeared on the statue of Dutt in Raniganj. The incident took place on Friday night in West Burdwan district about 200 km from Kolkata and was noticed on Saturday morning.

Read: Statue vandalism: Violent protests break out at Jadavpur University

The civic body authorities quickly cleaned the statue.

Dutt (1824-1873) is regarded as one of the key personalities of modern Bengali literature who was also one of the earliest Indians to try his hand in writing poetry in English. Besides, he was a polyglot having studied Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Hebrew, Latin and Greek.

Dutt converted to Christianity in his youth.

“We are trying to find out the identity of the culprits. We have told the police to take strong steps, “ said Jiten Tewari, the mayor of Asansol Municipal Corporation. “It is a matter of great shame that the statue of the poet was defaced.”

Local BJP leaders, too, condemned the act.

Read: Statue vandalism: Ambedkar, Gandhi statues defaced

The string of vandalism involving some of the country’s leaders and icons started with the demolition of two statues of the leader of Russian revolution, Vladimir Lenin, in Tripura on March 6 and 7 following the victory of the BJP.

To protest the act by saffron supporters, a group of ultra-Left students vandalised a bust of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee in south Kolkata on March 7.

The virus spread fast with social reformer E V Ramaswamy’s (popular as Periyar) statue attacked in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupattur on the night of March 6 and that of B R Ambedkar being defaced in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut on the same night. M K Gandhi’s statue was vandalised on March 8 in Kannur, Kerala and Subhas Chandra Bose’s statue being defaced on March 9 in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

Read: Statue vandalism: Rajinikanth slams BJP leader for ‘barbaric’ comment on Periyar

Bengal chief minister condemned the demolition of Lenin’s statue and the vandalism of prominent Indian leaders. Kolkata Police arrested seven students who damaged Mookerjee’s statue.

In Kolkata, BJP leaders got into a scuffle with ruling Trinamool Congress supporters on March 8, when they were prevented from going near Mookerjee’s statue that the saffron supporters wanted to purify with milk and Ganges water.

On March 9, BJP workers carried out their purification programme on a few statues of Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Howrah and other areas of Bengal with milk and river water and applied sandalwood on the forehead of the statue.

One of Dutt’s important creations was Meghnad Badh Kabya (poem on the killing of Indrajit, the son of Ravana), in which he portrayed Ravana as a hero. Dutt was also famous for writing blank verse in Bengali.

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 16:27 IST

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