In the last few weeks, there has been news coming across from various parts of India related to incidents of statue vandalism of famous political and social reformers. The first incident of vandalism of statue came from Tripura, days after BJP-IPFT coalition overcame the 25-years old incumbent Left-Front government. Since then, reports of similar incidents of such magnitude have been reported from the states of Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. The incident in Tripura triggered acts of vandalism across the country, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the growing reports of statue vandalism incidents
After the electoral mandate of the recently concluded elections in Tripura, BJP-led IPFT coalition defeated the Left-Front government for the first time in the last 25 years in the state. On March 5th & 6th, there were reports emerging from the Belonia and Sabroom towns in the South district of the state, when a mob of people along with a payloader demolished the statue of Russian Revolution leader Vladimir Lenin, chanting ‘Bharat-Mata ki Jai’ in Belonia, while a similar demolition of Lenin statue took place in Sabroom. As a result, there was a fallout between Left parties and the BJP as multiple incidents of violence took place all across the state.
What started in Tripura reached Uttar Pradesh, when a mob allegedly tampered with the statue of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the man who fought for the rights of Dalits in India. There were wide spread protests by the Dalit community in Mawana area after the incidence, as the authorities were quick to react to the incident. This incident took place on the night of 6th March in Meerut, and a similar incident took place in Azamgarh on the following day, where a group of three men allegedly vandalised the statue of Babasahab Ambedkar. UP CM Yogi Aditynath, has asked the authorities to look into the matter and ensure that such incidents of vandalism should not take place in the state again.
A similar incident took place in Tamil Nadu, as state’s BJP leader H. Raja posted a controversial tweet following the vandalism of Lenin’s statue in Tripura. The leader’s tweet resulted in people demolishing the statue of rationalist social reformer EV Ramaswamy. “Periyar”, as he is popularly known as across South India for fighting for the rights of non-Brahmin Dravidians in the state. Although the BJP leader took down his tweet immediately, but the damage had been done, as upper-caste Brahmins were targeted by the alleged members of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam. These men cut the sacred threads of the Brahmins while shouting “Long Live Periyar” slogan, as a retaliation against the BJP leader’s comments, as Periyar is worshiped as an icon of Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu.
On March 7, the acts of vandalism reached Kolkata, when a group of six radical students belonging to pro-Maoist student body of the college vandalised the statue of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of Jan Sangh. The act of vandalism took place inside the campus of Jadavpur University in Kalighat. TMC workers reached the spot to stop the the miscreants from further vandalizing the statue. Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee strongly condemned the incidents of statue vandalism taking place throughout the country, and ensured that as long as she is alive incidents of such magnitude will never take place on the soil of West Bengal.
Such acts of vandalism are not just condemnable but also shameful as the statues of the leaders who have contributed to the formation and development of India, except Lenin, were being vandalisd by political and regional groups in this war of ideologies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the incidents of statue vandalism, and asked the authorities to step-up their investigation in the incidents. The Prime Minister ordered the state governments to look into the matter and ensure that such incidents should not take place anywhere in the country.
Even after PM’s orders there have been reports of vandalism of statues of political leaders. These incidents reflect the growing intolerance that’s sprouting in our society. India is the largest democracy in the world, the diversity of Indian society is its biggest strength but the way things are panning out it is a matter of time before such extremism becomes part of every protest in this democratic country.