Following the vandalising of a statue of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar allegedly by men belonging to the dominant caste community, tension mounted in Ghunna village of Saharanpur. The incident has triggered anger among the residents of the village, mostly from the dalit community, who staged a protest against the demolition.
"The plot of land on which the statue is located is disputed and belongs to a hostel. We're probing if it was done due to the dispute or got crumbled due to wear and tear," a police officer was quoted as saying by ANI.
Several women led by members of Dalit-Ambedkarite outfit Bhim Army participated in the protest. The protesters also blocked the Behat-Saharanpur road and chanted slogans against the government. The angry protesters demanded that the people responsible for the vandalising the statue be arrested immediately and also called for the installation of a new statue of BR Ambedkar. Meanwhile, the UP police have assured them that their demands will be met. This is the second incident of an Ambedkar statue being vandalised in the past one week in the region. A similar incident had occurred in Meerut’s Sikheda village on Thursday, September 5.
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Sushil Gautam, a dalit rights activist told NewsClick, "This is not the first time that the statue of Baba Saheb has been vandalised in Saharanpur. Ever since the ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, Baba Saheb’s statues are being vandalised on almost a regular basis. Yesterday's incident in Saharanpur was done as part of a conspiracy to create communal tension in the district. Furthermore, everywhere in the country dalits are being harassed and our temples and statues are being demolished by goons with the help of BJP leaders."
Saharanpur had seen one of the worst cases of caste violence in recent history during the Maharana Pratap Jayanti. Shabbirpur, a village in Saharanpur district of Western Uttar Pradesh, had witnessed caste violence between Thakurs and dalits in 2017. The violence took place after Thakurs allegedly objected to BR Ambedkar’s statue in the village. Several houses belonging to dalits were destroyed in the arson, which also led to the death of several people. It was the dalit agitation after Shabbirpur incident that led to the rise of Bhim Army led by Chandrashekhar Azad.
Not only Western UP but Eastern UP, too, has witnessed several cases of vandalism of BR Ambedkar’s statue in the recent past.
On August 20, three statues of BR Ambedkar were vandalised by some miscreants at three different places in Deogaon area of Azamgarh district, police had confirmed. The statues were vandalised in Mirza Adampur, Sirkantpur and Barmanpur villages.
Also read: Now, Ambedkar Statue Vandalised in Haridwar, Uttarakhand