Statue politics: Periyar crusaders protest, brahmins attacked; 10 updates

A statue of Vladimir Lenin brought down at Sabroom Motor Stand in Tripura. Photo: @ANI
A bust of Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was vandalised in Kolkata today, allegedly by Left supporters, an obvious act of retribution following the razing of statues of Soviet icon Vladimir Illyich Lenin in Triupra, officials said.

As an unseemly fallout of the BJP's historic triumph in the Left bastion of Tripura, suspected right-wing activists had pull down two statues of Lenin at different places in the tiny north-eastern state. Today, seven people belonging to a Left-leaning group called 'Radical' vandalised the bust of Mookerjee in south Kolkata. All the seven, including a woman, were arrested, Kolkata police commissioner Rajiv Kumar said.

The incident also followed desecration of a bust of Dravidian movement founder E V Ramasamy Periyar in Tamil Nadu's Vellore after a Facebook post by a senior BJP leader. The incident triggered widespread protests across the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the incidents of vandalism of statues and warned of stern action against those found guilty.

Following the demolition of two Lenin statues in Tripura, a statue of Dravidian icon and social reformer E V Ramasamy, popularly known as "Periyar", was vandalised in Tamil Nadu's Vellore on Tuesday night. The BJP's historical leaders did not escape unscathed either as, on Wednesday, a bust of BJP icon Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was blackened and smashed with a hammer in Kolkata's Keoratola crematorium.

Syama Prasad Mukherjee's statue vandalised in Kolkata, 6 detained

Later in the day, news agencies reported that a statue of BR Ambedkar had been vandalised by unidentified people in Meerut's Mawana late Tuesday night. 

Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh on Wednesday asked all political parties to ensure that those found desecrating statues were dealt with strictly. The minister said that such incidents of vandalism could never be justified.

As a fallout of Raja's comment and the vandalising of Periyar's statue at Thirupattur in Vellore district late on Tuesday, several Tamil Brahmins were attacked in Triplicane area here on Wednesday morning and their sacred thread were cut by vandals on two wheelers raising pro-Ramasamy slogans.

Here are the top 10 developments surrounding the 'statue war' and the political reactions to it:

1. ‘DVK men’ cut sacred threads of at least eight people in Chennai

Four alleged Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam men forcibly cut the poonals (sacred threads) of some people in Mylapore on Wednesday morning. The incident happened a day after BJP leader H Raja posted a message on social media platforms that denigrated social reformer Periyar E V Ramasamy.

"The men shouted slogans hailing Periyar," said eyewitnesses.

2. Anna Hazare expresses displeasure over damage to statues

Social activist Anna Hazare today expressed displeasure over damage to the statues across the country and said "nobody has the right to do such things".

He also said the war between India and Pakistan would push both the countries three decades back but "the country should go for it if Pakistan fails to understand (the language of peace)."

3. Modi 'strongly' condemns vandalism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday strongly condemned the vandalism of statues in many states triggered by razing of Communist hero Lenin's statue in Tripura on Monday, an act condoned by some BJP leaders, followed by similar incidents in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

"(The) Prime Minister has strongly disapproved reported incidents of vandalism in parts of (the) country," an official statement said.

The statement said Modi spoke Home Minister Rajnath Singh and sought "stern action" against those who resorted to vandalism of statues.

4. Deal strictly with those vandalising statues, Rajnath tells parties
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today asked all political parties to ensure that those found desecrating statues are dealt with strictly and said such incidents of vandalism can never be justified. "I appeal to everyone, all parties, that anyone indulging in such acts should be dealt with strictly. These incidents can never be justified," Singh told reporters outside Parliament. Prime NarendraModi has expressed his strong disapproval of statues being vandalised in parts of the country and spoken to the home minister on the matter.

5. Lok Sabha disrupted for third day; Protests over statue

The proceedings of the Lok Sabha were washed out for the third consecutive day today as parties protested on various issues, including vandalisation of statue of Dravidian icon Thanthai Periyar and PNB scam. While the Congress continued to press for prime minister's reply on the Rs 12,700-crore bank fraud allegedly involving diamantaire Nirav Modi, members from AIADMK and AAP were in the Well, holding photos of Periyar and raising slogans condemning the vandalism in Vellore. The TRS members raised slogans demanding a hike in Telangana's quota in reservation. While TDP continued to press for special status for Andhra Pradesh, another NDA ally Shiv Sena protested, like yesterday, demanding classical language status for Marathi.

6.  TN BJP sacks functionary for vandalising Periyar statue

The BJP's Tamil Nadu unit today sacked a party functionary for allegedly vandalising a statue of rationalist leader E V Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, in Tirupattur in Vellore district. "R Muthuraman is being expelled from the party," BJP state chief Tamilisai Soundarrajan said in a brief statement. Muthuraman was one of the two persons arrested by police for allegedly vandalising a bust-size statue of Ramasamy, in an inebriated condition, the other was identified as Francis. Meanwhile, the CPI said Francis is not a party activist. Francis was not a member of the party nor was he connected to it, CPI state unit secretary R Mutharasan said. Police yesterday said that Muthuraman was suspected to be a BJP worker and Francis was believed to be a CPI activist.

7. Amit Shah warns of severe action over statue razing

BJP President Amit Shah on Wednesday called the incidents of toppling statues in Tripura and other parts of the country "unfortunate" and warned of severe action against guilty party members.

In a series of tweets, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said destroying statues was extremely unfortunate.

"Any person associated with the BJP found to be involved with destroying any statue will face severe action from the party," he said.

However, he said the party will not take action against national secretary H Raja who is facing flak for his controversial remarks on Dravidian icon Periyar. Asked if the BJP will take action against Raja, Shah told reporters outside Parliament, "No, we will not".

8. Syama Prasad Mukherjee's statue vandalised in Kolkata, 6 detained

Members of a left wing student organisation on Wednesday allegedly vandalised a bust of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee here and blackened its face, the West Bengal BJP said.

Six members of the group have been detained by the police in the incident, that happened at the Keoratola crematorium.

Condemning the incident, the state BJP leadership demanded strong action against the offenders and claimed that Mukherjee's contribution to Bengal politics cannot be erased thus.

"We condemn the act of vandalising the statue of Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee... demand very strong action against the culprits and also want to give... message that you cannot take away the contribution of Mukherjee in building West Bengal, by this shameful act," Sayantan Basu, general secretary of West Bengal BJP said in a release.

9. 'Periyar' statue vandalised in TN, 2 arrested

A statue of social reformer and founder of Dravidian movement E V Ramasamy "Periyar" was allegedly vandalised in Tamil Nadu's Vellore district tonight, police said. The incident, which the police claimed was perpetrated by two drunk men, assumed political significance as it came after a BJP leader indicated that statues of the rationalist leader could be the next to be pulled down after a statute of Communist icon Lenin was razed by suspected BJP workers in Tripura. A senior district police officer said that two people, identified as Muthuraman and Francis, damaged the bust at Tirupattur in an inebriated state. The duo have been arrested, the police said, adding that while Muthuraman was suspected to be a BJP worker, Francis is believed to be a CPI activist.

10. CPM blames BJP workers for Lenin statue incident

Two statues of communist icon Vladimir Lenin were brought down in South Tripura, the police said today, as the CPI(M) and its arch-rival in Bengal, the Trinamool Congress, blamed the BJP for the incidents. The statues were pulled down just days after the Left was defeated in Assembly polls by the BJP and its ally IPFT, which together won a two-third majority in the House in a state where the CPI(M) was in power for 25 years. A five-foot high fibre glass statue of Lenin was toppled at Belonia yesterday, while a smaller figure was razed at Sabroom two days ago, district superintendent of police Monchak Ipper said. 

Dr BR Ambedkar's statue vandalised by unidentified people in Meerut's Mawana late last night; Dalit community held protest & blocked traffic in the morning, ended the protest after assurance from the administration of installation of new statue

— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 7, 2018


To repeat, the vandalizing of existing statues is absolutely unjustified. But the eulogies being offered us of Lenin are utterly disingenuous. He was a tyrant, a despot.

— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) March 7, 2018

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