A bust of Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was damaged and discoloured in south Kolkata on Wednesday morning, ostensibly in reaction to bringing down a statue of Communist leader Lenin in Tripura Monday, two days after the BJP-IPFT alliance defeated the Left Front in the Assembly polls.
Six men and a woman, who claimed to be students of Jadavpur University in Kolkata and members of an ultra-Left group named ‘Radical’, have been arrested in this connection.
“The seven are aged between 22 and 29. They tried to deface the bust of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee and have been arrested from the spot,” Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar said. The incident took place around 8 am near Keoratolla crematorium.
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On Tuesday, there were reports of a second Lenin statue being vandalised in south Tripura, and one of Periyar, founder of the Dravida movement and a movement against caste oppression, was vandalised in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.
On Wednesday morning, as the miscreants damaged Mookerjee’s bust, local Trinamool Congress workers stopped them and called the police. The seven were arrested from the spot.A video clip of Wednesday’s incident, shot on a cellphone, shows a group of people shouting slogans against razing of the Lenin statue in Tripura. and walking in the garden attached to Keoratolla crematorium in south Kolkata.
Two youths are then seen climbing up on the Mookerjee’s bust and breaking it with hammers. They then spray-painted the face of the bust with black colour, the video shows.
A poster signed ‘RADICAL’, the name of an ultra-Left student outfit, was placed next to the bust.
The seven accused were booked under Section 3 and 4 relating to Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, and IPC Sections 427 (causing mischief) and 153 (promoting enmity between groups). IPC Sections 143, 147 (unlawful assembly) have also been slapped on the arrested people. They were produced to Alipore court and sent to two-day police custody.
Trinamool Congress MLA Shovondeb Chatterjee, who visited the spot soon after the incident, said, “Our chief minister has already said that we will not tolerate vandalism of statues. It is a shameful act. We are happy that the miscreants have been arrested. Locals alerted the police. We will not allow such things to happen in West Bengal.
BJP state unit president Dilip Ghosh said, “Naxals have…laid their hands on Syama Prasad Mookerjee. We will wash it with milk and reinstate the bust.”