Politics of vandalism spreads to Bengal, UP

New Delhi: The politics of vandalism spread further on Wednesday when Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s bust was sprayed with black ink in Kolkata and B.R. Ambedkar’s statue was damaged in a village in UP’s Meerut district.
The fresh instances of vandalism came in the wake of the pulling down of two statues of Lenin by miscreants in Tripura within 48 hours of BJP winning the Left bastion, followed by an attack on a Periyar statue in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district. This prompted the Union home ministry to send an advisory to state governments on Wednesday, asking them to take strong action against people indulging in such acts of vandalism by booking them under the relevant provisions of law.
The home ministry’s directive came even as protests were held in Tamil Nadu against the attack on the Periyar statue on March 6. Police protection was provided for all Periyar statues across the state and the Madras high court directed the state government to maintain law and order. Protests by 11 parties were also held in Guwahati against the demolition of the Lenin statues.
Seven members of an ultra-left group, Radical, were arrested for damaging Mookerjee’s statue. Those who damaged Ambedkar’s statue have not been identified.
Protesting against the demolition of two Lenin statues in Sabroom and Belonia towns of Tripura, members of Radical sprayed black ink on Mookerjee’s bust near the Keoratala crematorium in Kolkata around 7.15am and raised slogans before they were overpowered by local residents.
No one noticed the protesters, who were carrying posters and spray-paint cans, as they sneaked in. One of them was even uploading live videos on Facebook as the others went about their act. Two other members clambered onto the podium on which the bust was installed and hammered away at the bust, defacing its right side.
Cops reached the spot in 15 minutes and arrested the seven members. “We have defaced the bust to protest against the destruction of Lenin’s statues in Tripura,” the group’s leader, former Jadavpur University student Abhishek Mukherjee, said.
Radical has a presence in JU’s arts faculty and has led anti-government movements earlier. It had courted controversy when slogans demanding azadi (freedom) for Kashmir and Manipur were raised at an arts faculty students’ union rally against RSS’s “attempts to pollute the atmosphere on the campus”. The state intelligence had pinned the blame on the group last April.
While Radical had its formal initiation after the Hok Kolorob movement in JU, Abhishek and his wife Debolina were well-known in police circles since the Singur-Nandigram agitations. “Abhishek was arrested by Kolkata police STF for his links with Maoists. He was the one who had raised a black flag and shouted slogans against former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee when he entered the campus years ago. He was part of another organization then,” claimed a police source.
Condemning the vandalisation, TMC minister Partha Chatterjee said: “Those who have defaced Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s bust are against Indian culture.”

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