The statues of Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar were found vandalised in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on Thursday morning, the latest in a series of attacks on statues of political figures across the country.
In Kannur’s Thaliparamba area, the spectacles of the Gandhi statue were damaged by unknown miscreants. The police have arrested one man in connection with the incident. “He is mentally unstable and we are ruling out any political relation,” ANI quoted a police officer as saying.
In Chennai’s Tiruvottiyur area, unidentified people poured red paint on Ambedkar’s bust.
The acts of vandalism follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s condemnation of such incidents. He had asked states to take stern action against those accountable. The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to provide protection to the statues of all leaders in the state. It also directed the administration to ensure that law and order is maintained, not disrupted.
On Wednesday, seven people were arrested in Kolkata for allegedly damaging the bust of Jana Sangh leader Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Kalighat. On Tuesday, the bust of social reformer EV Ramaswamy – also known as Periyar – was defaced in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore. On Tuesday night, a statue of BR Ambedkar was vandalised in Meerut.
On Monday, the statue of communist icon Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov – better known as Lenin – was knocked down in Tripura’s Belonia town. It was brought down by suspected BJP workers celebrating their party’s victory in the Assembly elections.
After this incident, BJP leader H Raja said on Facebook: “Who is Lenin? What is his connection to India? What is the connection of communists to India? Lenin’s statue was destroyed in Tripura. Today Lenin’s statue, tomorrow Tamil Nadu’s EVR Ramaswami’s [Periyar’s] statue.”
After his comments on Periyar drew sharp reactions from leaders across party lines, Raja backtracked and said it was posted on his page without his permission. Periyar is revered in Tamil Nadu for fighting the caste system, speaking out against the exploitation of Dravidian people and establishing the Dravida Kazhagam, the ideological parent of two major Dravidian parties of the state.