While Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh ordered a change in the name of Dalit icon Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar to Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, perhaps a token move to woo Dalits to Hindutva fold, two statues of Dalit icon Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar were vandalised in the state on Friday night and Saturday.
One statue was found with its head chopped off at a park in Allahabad’s Trivenipuram locality on Saturday and the other statue was damaged in Siddharthnagar district’s Gohaniya village on Friday night, said media reports.
Locals found the head lying a few feet from the statue in the park in Trivenipuram early on Saturday morning, police said. “We are aware of the matter and are trying to locate the suspects,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Allahabad Aakash Kulhari, according to media reports. He said a case has been registered and ruled out any tension in the area following the incident.
Local BSP and SP leaders and supporters gathered at the park staging a protest, demanding the culprits be arrested. Recently elected Phulpur MP Nagender Singh Patel also reached the spot on Saturday morning, reported the Indian Express.
Close on the heels of this, another Ambedkar statue vandalisation was reported from Gohaniya village in Siddharthnagar. The hand and nose of the statue were broken by unknown miscreants last night. This makes it fourth such incident in the state in March.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath said that stern action will be taken against the miscreants who vandalised the statues. The acts of vandalism continue in the state despite Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issuing a directive to all senior district officials to ensure the security of statues of eminent personalities.
Earlier, an Ambedkar statue was vandalised in Rajapatti village in Azamgarh on March 10. Before that, miscreants had targeted an Ambedkar statue in Meerut.
Dalit groups last week lashed out at the UP government for trying to appropriate Ambedkar’s name while reminding the saffron party that Ambedkar had in fact shunned Hinduism because of the divisive caste system.
BSP chief Mayawati had demanded that those disturbing peace and harmony by vandalising statues should be booked under the sedition law. She also demanded security for statues and memorials built in the memory of icons, especially those of Dalits and other backward classes.
A spate of vandalising statues started after a statue of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin was brought down in Tripura after the BJP registered a thumping victory in the state Assembly elections. A statue of social reformer Periyar was vandalised in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district and a bust of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was blackened in Kolkata’s Kalighat.
The Home Ministry issued a directive to states to deal with such incidents strictly as did the UP CM Yogi Adityanath to his district police and administrative officers.