Statue vandalism issue: Gandhi bust attacked in Kerala; top 10 developments

Photo: ANI (Twitter: @ANI)
What started with pulling down of Communist icon Lenin's statue in Tripura allegedly by BJP workers has now spread to the entire country with busts and statues of several leaders coming under attack in the last few days.

On Thursday, a bust of Mahatma Gandhi was found defaced in Kannur district's Taliparamba town. Giving details of the vandalisation, an official said, the spectacle carving was damaged and a garland on the statue was lying nearby.

The police have arrested one man in connection with the incident. “He is mentally unstable and we are ruling out any political relation,” a police officer told ANI. 

Some locals on the spot were reported as saying that they saw a man hurling a stone at the statue before fleeing the spot.

Dalit icon B R Ambedkar's bust was once again targeted in the ongoing vandalisation of statues, this time in Tamil Nadu. Unidentified people poured red paint on Ambedkar's bust in Chenna's Tiruvottiyur area. According to reports, Chennai police took cognizance of the matter and rushed to the spot at around 9 am. The police are currently on the lookout for the miscreants. 

Yesterday, a bust of Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was vandalised in Kolkata. The day before, a statue of Ambedkar was damaged in Meerut. The incidents came close on the heels of Communist leader Lenin's statues being damaged in Tripura and Dravidian movement founder E V Ramasamy Periyar's bust being desecrated in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

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

1. Mahatma Gandhi's statue attacked in Kerala: A bust of Mahatma Gandhi was found defaced in Kannur district's Taliparamba town on Monday. The spectacle carving was damaged and a garland on the statue was lying nearby. 

Officials told PTI that a probe was on to identify those behind the incident. Some locals on the spot were reported as saying that they saw a man hurling a stone at the statue before fleeing the spot. 

2. Ambedkar's statue defaced in Tamil Nadu: Unidentified people poured red paint on Ambedkar's bust in Chennai's Tiruvottiyur area. According to reports, Chennai police took cognizance of the matter and rushed to the spot at around 9 am. The police are currently on the lookout for the miscreants.

3. Modi, Rajnath 'strongly' condemns vandalism: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday strongly condemned the various acts of vandalism of statues in many states.

"(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.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh 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.
4. Syama Prasad Mukherjee's statue vandalised in Kolkata: On Wednesday, members of a left-wing student organisation named 'Radicals' allegedly vandalised a bust of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee at the Keoratola crematorium and blackened its face, the West Bengal BJP said.

Six members of the group have been detained by the police in the incident.

Condemning the incident, the state BJP leadership demanded strong action against the offenders.

"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.

5. 'Periyar' statue vandalised in TN, 2 arrested: Tamil Nadu police said the staute  of social reformer and founder of Dravidian movement E V Ramasamy "Periyar" was vandalised in Vellore district. The incident 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.

6. Ambedkar statue vandalised in Meerut: A statue of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar was vandalised in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh. The incident had led to a protest by the members of Dalit community in the area. Officials later installed a new Ambedkar statue to placate the protestors.

Mawana Circle Officer U N Mishra told PTI on Wednesday that the situation is normal and the new statue of Ambedkar had been installed.

7. Amit Shah warns party workers: Terming the desecration of Lenin's statues in Tripura and Periyar's bust in Tamil Nadu as "extremely unfortunate", Amit Shah said that any party member found involved in destroying a statue will face severe 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.

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. Shah, however, said that the party will not take nay action against Raja.

8. Yechury criticises BJP-RSS: CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday criticised the BJP-RSS for the pulling down of a statue of communist icon Vladimir Lenin in Tripura and urged the democratic and secular forces of the country to come together against the ''fascist onslaught'' of the saffron regime.

''Such attacks clearly demonstrate that the RSS and the BJP rely mainly on unleashing political violence as means to advance their inherent anti-democratic and fascist agenda,'' he said.

Yechury also described Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy's tweet on the matter as ''unfortunate''.

''This shows how constitutional posts are being undermined,'' he said.

Reacting to the pulling down of the Lenin statue, Roy had tweeted, ''What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa.''

9. CPI(M) protests in Kolkata: The CPI(M) organised a protests rally on Tuesday against the pulling down of a statue of communist icon Vladimir Lenin in Tripura. The rally was attended by CPI(M) top brass, including its general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Yechury along with Politburo members Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Biman Bose, M A Baby and CPI(M) state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra walked in the rally from Promode Dasgupta Bhawan to Lenin's statue in Esplande area in the heart of the city. 

10. TN BJP sacks functionary for vandalising Periyar statue: On Wednesday, BJP sacked a party functionary for allegedly vandalising the statue of 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.

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