The war of ideological icons peaked on Wednesday, with reports of statues being defiled filtered in from various parts of the country. Latest in series was a BR Ambedkar statue which was demolished by "unknown miscreants" in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district, the authorities said, as they assured a swift probe and restoration of the Dalit icon's statue. Firstpost compiled the developments on the issue so far:
Incidents of vandalism report from different parts of country
Initially, the felling of two statues of communist ideologue Vladimir Lenin in Tripura, allegedly by celebrating BJP workers, had opened a can of worms in the war of political ideologies. A five-foot high fibre glass statue of Lenin was toppled at Belonia on Monday, while a smaller figure was razed at Sabroom on Sunday. However, both incidents gathered attention on Tuesday.
Then, apparently, inspired by the Tripura incident, a BJP youth-wing leader in Tamil Nadu and party's national secretary H Raja took to social media on Tuesday and posted derogatory posts about Dravidian movement icon Periyar EV Ramasamy suggesting that his statues and busts will suffer the same fate.
Subsequently, late on Tuesday night it was reported that a Periyar statue was smashed with a hammer by two men, one of whom was a BJP worker. The police has arrested two people in the incident.
Besides, a Syama Prasad Mookerjee statue in West Bengal's Kolkata too was smashed as retaliatory action, but seven Jadavpur University students were arrested immediately after the incident. Mukerjee was the founder of Jana Sangh that was the precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. A petrol bomb was also hurled at BJP's Coimbatore office in retaliation of the party leaders' statements against Periyar.
Narendra Modi , Amit Shah condemn attacks on statues
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday strongly condemned the vandalism of statues in many states and warned of stern action against those found guilty. Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah also termed the desecration of communist icon Lenin's statues in Tripura and Periyar's statue in Tamil Nadu "extremely unfortunate" as he warned party workers of stern action.
The recent issue on destroying of statues is extremely unfortunate. We as a party do not support the bringing down of anybody’s statue.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) March 7, 2018
"The recent issue on destroying of statues is extremely unfortunate. We as a party do not support the bringing down of anybody's statue. I have spoken to the party units in both Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Any person associated with the BJP found to be involved with destroying any statue will face severe action from the party," he said.
Home ministry issues advisory to states, wants stern action, preventive measure to maintain law and order
Taking a serious view of the desecration of statues, the home ministry issued two advisories within one day, asking states to hold district magistrates and superintendents of police "personally responsible" for such incidents of vandalism. The MHA in its earlier advisory had told all states and Union Territories that incidents of toppling and damaging of statues must be checked immediately and stern action should be taken to prevent such incidents.
Dravidian parties protest in Chennai
Angered DMK workers took to streets in Chennai and burned effigies of Raja. The party MLAs were seen protesting at various spots including Anna Salai and RK Nagar. Politician-turned-actor Kamal Hassan, said, "These recorded views on Periyar are very low and punishable by law, according to legal experts. Periyar statues don't require protection, the Tamils will protect them. Those who speak scandalously about Periyar should be the ones given security because they'll need it. We can't accept these expressions of regret."
Several AIADMK MLAs including Thamimun Ansari, Karunas and U Thaniyarasu have issued a joint statement demanding H Raja's arrest under the National Security Act, while MDMK chief Vaiko questioned why BJP top leadership did not take action against Raja.
BJP sacks worker who defaced Periyar statue but no action against Raja
Shah said the party will not take action against Raja, who is facing flak for his controversial remarks on Periyar. Facing backlash, Raja deleted the post said that it was posted by his social media manager without his knowledge or consent. He tendered an apology while claiming he has sacked the person responsible for the incident. "Views should be confronted by views only and not by violence. I have no intentions of hurting anybody. Therefore, if anybody felt hurt by that post, I express my heartfelt regret," he said.
Opposition flays BJP in Parliament
Opposition parties condemned the "shameful" incidents of damage to statues, and hit out at the BJP, alleging that its members were becoming "intolerant" and were "insulting" the people, especially the poor. While Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge condemned insult of rationalist icons, TMC leader Derek O’Brien dubbed the incidents an "absolute shame" and "third class". CPI leader D Raja said Periyar was not just a great leader of Tamil Nadu but a global leader. He was the founder of self-respect and rationalist movement and fought against the caste system.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Mar 07, 2018 20:28:52 IST