Women lead protest over vandalisation of Ambedkar statue in Saharanpur
Meerut: Women wielding sticks led a massive protest and blocked the road in Behat area of Saharanpur on Tuesday after miscreants vandalised a statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Heavy police force was deployed as the road leads to the Goddess Shakumbhari Devi temple, where a fair is being held at present and a large number of devotees are thronging the shrine.
Later, the administration replaced the statue. “Now, the situation is under control,” said SSP, Saharanpur, Dinesh Kumar P.
In the morning, there was considerable tension in the area as devotees came face to face with the agitators. However, a large police force averted the imminent clash.
According to police sources, trouble started when the Ambedkar statue at Ghuna bus stand was found broken on Tuesday morning. It was vandalised in the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday. As news spread, several hundred members of the Dalit community. led by women wielding lathis and followed by men, assembled and staged a massive agitation on Saharanpur-Behat Road, blocking the route.
“Someone is deliberately trying to recreate the kind of violence witnessed in Saharanpur two years ago. And if this happens, local administration will be responsible because it is not listening to us. We want speedy inquiry into the matter and immediate replacement of the statue,” said an agitator, Rajbir Singh.
According to SSP Dinesh Kumar P, “In what appears to be a deliberate attempt to disturb peace in the area, a Babasaheb Ambedkar statue was broken after which the road was blocked by agitators, resulting in a massive jam. The administration immediately took steps to handle the situation by sending adequate forces in the area and also used mild force to disperse some anti-social elements who tried to take advantage of the situation. The statue has been replaced by a new one and the situation is completely under control. Investigations are on to identify the culprits who vandalized the statue.”
Over the past few years, Saharanpur has witnessed major Dalit-upper caste clashes. The biggest one was in April-May, 2017,
leading to torching of more than 20 vehicles in a major Dalit-police clash in Saharanpur city. The clashes were a fallout of DalitThakur clash at Shabbirpur village and another one that took place at Sadak-Doodhli village over taking out the Maharana Pratap Jayanti and Ambedkar Jayanti processions, respectively.
This is the second incident of an Ambedkar statue being vandalized in the past one week in the region. A similar incident had occurred in Meerut’s Sikheda village on Thursday. According to a priest, who lives in a temple nearby, some unidentified miscreants had vandalized the statue in the night and later slipped away under the cover of darkness. The noise of breaking the statue had attracted the attention of some passersby.
Tension gripped Sikheda village after its residents came to know about the incident. Senior police officers had rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. The plot of land on which the statue stands is owned by village panchayat. For over two decades, it has been a bone of contention between Dalits and upper caste residents at the village.