Lucknow, (IANS) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) activists held demonstrations across Uttar Pradesh Thursday after a life-size statue of former chief minister and party supremo Mayawati was vandalised in a Lucknow park.
Police have arrested three people who held an inflammatory press conference prior to the crime, and a search is on for the four youths who attacked the statue.
An alert has been sounded across the state and security beefed at up at all Dalit memorials to prevent any repeat of the incident at the Ambedkar Park here, Principal Secretary (Home) R.M. Srivastava told media persons.
According to police, four youths entered the sprawling park in the posh Gomtinagar area around 1.30 p.m. and attacked the statue.
As the security guards tried to stop them, the youths pushed them aside and struck the statue with a hammer, breaking the hands, ripping off the head from the torso, and leaving many marks on the face. The purse in the statue’s hands was also ripped off and broken.
Before the four sped away on motorbikes, they left a pamphlet in the name of Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena, saying they had promised to break the statue on March 15, 2012 – the day the new Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav was sworn in.
One of the four has been identified as Amit Agarwal alias Amit Jani, a resident of Jani town in Meerut, said state Director General of Police (DGP) A.C. Sharma.
Jani, a school dropout and small-time politician, faces at least seven criminal cases, under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, in Meerut and Amroha districts.
Three people, identified as Arpit Srivastava, Alok Srivastav, a former media photographer, and Vishal Mishra, an official of a PR event management company have been arrested for holding a highly inflammable press meet ahead of the act of vandalism, said Sharma.
Admitting that there was intelligence failure and promising action against the negligent officials, the DGP said the whole act appeared to be planned and executed to disrupt peace in the state and police will crack down on such people with an iron hand.
Angry at the vandalisation, several top leaders of the BSP held protests across the state.
Senior BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui warned of mass public protests if the government did not put a similar statue back at the place, while Leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya accused the Akhilesh Yadav government of conniving with the miscreants to bring down the statue.
Siddiqui, Maurya, Daddu Prasad and Nakul Dubey led the protest in Lucknow as they staged a sit-in in front of the Vidhan Sabha.
Reports of protests came in from many other parts of the state, including Muzaffarnagar, Jhansi and Ambedkarnagar where BSP supporters and workers took to the streets and raised anti-government slogans.
The act came in for condemnation from all political parties, who hit out at the state government for its “inefficiency”.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari questioned the law and order situation in the state and said that the incident was unfortunate.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kalraj Mishra also called it a serious and unfortunate incident, and called for immediate arrest of the youths involved in the act.
The chief minister too issued a statement condemning the incident and said that action would be taken against those involved. He also termed it “a planned move by divisive forces to disturb the peace in the state”.
Akhilesh Yadav also ordered the restoration of the statue.
The statue was unveiled on July 25, 2009, by Siddiqui, then public works department minister.