Representational image. I Image Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle
A statue of B R Ambedkar was allegedly vandalised by members of a right wing outfit on Sunday, August 25, in Vedharanyam of Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu. In a video circulated on social media, a group of members belonging to the Mukkulathor Puligal Katchi were seen chopping off the head of the statue with a machete and then destroying it with hammer amidst wild cheers from the other members. The man who shot the video was heard encouraging to pull the statue down completely.
The police has filed a case against 25 members reportedly belonging to the Mukkulathor Puligal outfit in two different police stations adjoining Vedharanyam town.
A new bronze statue was placed in the same place today morning reportedly by the district police administration. The area has been cordoned by strong police presence to ensure peace.
Statue Demolished in Daylight
The statue of Ambedkar in the traffic island of Vedharanyam was vandalised after clashes broke out among the Mukkulathor community and dalits of the area. The videos of the demolition went viral in the social media platforms creating wide outrage among the member of civil society and political parties.
Also read: Statue Politics Continue: Ambedkar And Periyar Statues Vandalized After Lenin
The group of members allegedly belonging to an outfit named Mukkulathu Puligal were allegedly involved in the demolition of the statue. The incident took place near the Vedharanyam police station, but most of the police personnel were deployed for duty in a nearby church festival. Only two policemen were present for duty who unsuccessfully tried to stop the rioters from running amok.
The leader of the party, Saravana Thevar and the party were continuously demanding the removal of the statue. They claimed that the statue was disrupting the car festival of the nearby temple governed allegedly by the upper caste Hindu group.
Protests Erupt Across the State
Major political parties including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) have severely condemned the demolition and called for immediate action against the culprits.
The students of various outfits conducted a procession and demonstration in Nadanam demanding immediate arrest of the offenders. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) held demonstrations in various district headquarters condemning the incident. The members of VCK hit the roads demanding the immediate arrest of the party members who were involved in the demolition of the statue. The protestors were arrested by the police citing lack of permission for the demonstration in Meenjur near Chennai.
Accident leads to Commotion
The incident was attributed to an accident which took place earlier in which a dalit man was injured severely by a car owned by a leader of the Mukkulathu Pulikal party. The SUV was reportedly set on fire by few members of the dalit community. The members of the party in retaliation demolished the Ambedkar statue, in what was seen as a planned attack as they were continuously insisting on the removal of the statue.
Vandalism of Statues Continue in Tamil Nadu
The right wing outfits have made a habit of calling for the vandalising of statues of social reformers in Tamil Nadu. The national secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) H Raja, a person known for controversy once called for the demolition of the statues of Periyar E V Ramaswamy after the statue of Lenin was pulled down in Tripura following BJP’s victory in the Assembly elections. Following this, a statue of the reformist was attacked and as severe criticisms poured in, the secretary deleted the Facebook post calling for the demolition of statues.
Also read: Funeral Procession of Dalit Woman Attacked in Tamil Nadu
Last week, a shop keeper was allegedly attacked by 5 men including a member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) since he donated Rs 300 for celebrating Gokulashtami in Tiruppur. The members who attacked him were allegedly demanding at least Rs 1000 as donation. During the same week an altercation had broken out between VHP and Hindu Munnani, another right wing outfit over the collection of funds for the same festival in Tiruppur itself.