Despite strong words by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and clear directives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, there seems to be no end to incidents of vandalism of statues of iconic leaders and ideologues. In the latest incident, a statue of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, has been vandalised.
The Rajasthan Police on Wednesday arrested one person for vandalising the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Jaisalmer. This comes just days after a statue of country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was defaced in Katwa's Telephone Maidan in West Bengal. Black ink was thrown on the statue.
In another related incident last week, a statue of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee was found vandalised in Assam's Kokrajhar. Also, a life-size statue of Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a prominent poet during the 19th century Bengal renaissance, was found defaced in Raniganj of West Bengal's Purba Bardhaman district.
Reports of incidents of vandalism of statues started pouring in soon after the results of the Assembly elections in Tripura were declared. Following the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Left bastion, a mod demolished a statue of Communist ideologue Vladimir Lenin in Tripura.
Following this, a statue of Dravidian ideologue ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy was damaged in Tirupattur in Tamil Nadu. This was followed by defacing statues of Dr BR Ambedkar in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and Mahatma Gandhi in Taliparamba in Kannur district of Kerala.
These incidents have sparked war of words between political parties as well. On Tuesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to microblogging site Twitter, alleging that the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) “signalled their cadres to destroy statues of those opposed” to their ideology.
He tweeted, “When the RSS & BJP encouraged the tearing down of Lenin statues in Tripura, they signalled their cadres to destroy statues of those who opposed their ideology, like Periyar, the great social reformer who fought for the Dalits. His statue too was destroyed today in Tamil Nadu.”
However, PM Modi had recently made an appeal to people to not indulge in vandalism of statues. Following this, the Union Home Ministry had issued a directive to states to ensure that no such incidents take place.