New Delhi: In another incident of vandalisation, a bust of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was damaged in Kolkata’s Chittaranjan Das Park inside Kalighat Crematorium on Wednesday morning.
The incident took place around 7am when a group of six students, claiming to be from the Jadavpur University’s ‘Radical’ students’ organisation, gathered in front of the park with placards condemning the vandalisation of Lenin statues in Tripura. Police said the six students have been detained.
After raising slogans, the group allegedly went inside the park and partially damaged Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s bust with a hammer. They put up a poster which read: “We want explanation from BJP on why Lenin’s statue was brought down in Tripura.”
A group of local Trinamool Congress workers – who were having tea in a nearby stall – rushed to the spot and caught all six people. They were later taken to Tollygunge Police station. “We were having tea and suddenly we saw these students damaging the statue. There is a strict instruction from our party president Mamata di to prevent people from damaging statues of great leaders,” Tapas Maity, a TMC worker said.
State BJP leaders condemned the incident. State BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu condemned the incident and demanded stern action against those involved in damaging the statue.
“The bust is damaged. This is the handiwork of TMC workers who are desperate to wipe out BJP from Bengal. The more they will suppress us, the more we will emerge as a strong party,” he said.
6 male and one female ( age 22-29) who tried to deface the bust of dr shyama prasad mukherjee have been arrested from the spot by Kolkata Police and strong legal action initiated. No vandalism would be tolerated.— CP Kolkata (@CPKolkata) March 7, 2018
On Tuesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned bringing down the statue of Lenin. “My ideology may differ with the CPI (M) but I will not tolerate if someone will try to destroy statues of leader like Lenin. It is unfortunate that BJP leaders instead of thinking towards development in Tripura, they are indulged in violence. They only believe in divisive politics,” Mamata said.
Hitting out at the BJP in Tripura, she had said, “What kind of politics is this? Today they are pulling down Lenin’s statue, tomorrow they will do the same with Gandhi ji, Subhash Chandra Bose, Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Birsa Munda’s statue….Till I am alive, I will not tolerate this and will raise our voice.”
This incident comes after a statue of Dravidian movement leader Periyar was razed in Vellore and two Lenin statues were damaged in Tripura.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strongly disapproved the incidents of vandalism and spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the issue.
The Home Ministry has issued an advisory to the states and told them to take all necessary measures to prevent such incidents. The MHA has said that persons indulging in such acts must be sternly dealt with and booked under relevant provisions of law.
The vandalism of the Periyar statue came hours after senior BJP leader H Raja said Periyar was "casteist" and called for the reformist's statue to be "destroyed" in a Facebook post. He deleted the post after facing backlash.
“Who is Lenin? What is the relevance he holds in India? What is the link between communalism and India? Lenin’s statues were destroyed in Tripura, tomorrow, in Tamil Nadu, casteist Periyar’s statues will be destroyed,” wrote Raja.
The Facebook post was in reference to the incident in south Tripura, where alleged BJP supporters used a JCB to bring down a statue of communist revolutionary Lenin on Monday, two days after the party won the assembly elections in the state. On Tuesday, another Lenin statue was razed to the ground.
The Periyar reference in Raja’s post was heavily criticised online, following which, the leader took it down. He has reportedly said that someone else had inadvertently posted it on his page.