Statue vandalism sparks political violence in India

Statue vandalism sparks political violence in India

NEW DELHI:The razing of Communist hero Lenin's statue in Tripura on Monday - an act condoned by some BJP leaders - appears to have sparked a wave of similar actions across the country by BJP workers. But backlash has been swift and retaliatory vandalism by opposition supporters has also begun.

In Vellore, a BJP town secretary and some of his relatives stoned a statue of anti-caste icon Periyar yesterday, after senior party leader H Raja tweeted advocating the destruction of his statues. Unconfirmed reports say that another statue of Lenin's has been targeted, again in Tripura, by persons unknown.

In West Bengal, a BJP icon was the target, as seven people - whose party affiliation is not yet known - vandalised a bust of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of the Jan Sangh, a party from which the BJP emerged. Seemingly in retaliation, unidentified men hurled two kerosene bombs on the BJP district office in Coimbatore in the early hours of Wednesday.

Police in various parts of India now fear a rise in political violence; Tripura is already on the boil. The atmosphere is fraught in Coimbatore and neighbouring areas following the stoning of Periyar's statue. Police have been deployed at the locations of at least 27 Periyar statues across Chennai, and in other parts of the state.

Left parties held marches on the streets of Kolkata protesting the razing of Lenin's statue in Tripura. In Tamil Nadu, DMK workers  protested the incendiary tweet by the BJP's Raja, who later deleted his tweet advocating the destruction of Periyar's statues. The BJP worker in Vellore who stoned Periyar's statue was expelled today by the party. Also , the BJP - many of whose leaders spoke approvingly of the razing of Lenin's statue - condemned such acts vandalism, after party icon Mukherjee's statue was defaced in Bengal.

Monday's incident happened days after BJP swept elections in the north-eastern state, dislodging the Communist government after 25 years.

The five-year-old statue in Belonia town was removed with the help of an excavator as supporters cheered.

There have been clashes between BJP and Communist party workers in the state.

The NDTV news channel quoted eyewitnesses as saying the excavator which brought down the statue was hired by BJP workers.

Tapas Dutta, a local functionary of the outgoing Communist Party of India (Marxist), told The Indian Express newspaper that eyewitness had told him "that after the statue fell, its head was dismembered from the body".

"Then the BJP workers played football with Lenin's head." BBC