A day after a statue of late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was found damaged in Mirzapur, Congress’ UP chief Raj Babbar — amid statewide protests by party leaders — said such incidents were indicative of the Yogi government’s “plans to disturb social harmony”. Babbar, who led a ‘dharna’ near the vandalised statue, gave the state government a 24-hour ultimatum to arrest the culprits, else the agitation would be intensified. He was accompanied by Pramod Tiwari, Rajesh Mishra and Rajesh Pati Tripathi.
On Sunday, Babbar had claimed that the head of the statue was found in a drain. The culprits, he had said, left a message below the damaged statue – “Humari sarkar hai, usey Pakistan bhej diya gaya (This is our government, he has been sent to Pakistan).”
“This was not an effort to damage a statue but (an attempt) to finish an ideology…The damage to the statues in the state (in the recent past) from Saharanpur to Mirzapur indicates that there are governments at the Centre and the state which cannot tolerate any ideology other than their own,” a PTI report quoted Babbar as saying.
What was found written below the statue points towards those who are behind this act, Babbar alleged, said the PTI report.
Ashish Tiwari, Mirzapur’s superintendent of police, said they were working on the case and had rounded up a couple of suspects. He added that Congress Rajya Sabha Member Pramod Tiwari had offered to reinstall the statue as well as renovate the park it was located in, using Rs 10 lakh from his MPLAD funds.
AICC general secretary in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad, in an official statement, demanded that an “inquiry committee” be set up to look into the incident, alleging that over the past few months, a large number of incidents indicative of deteriorating law and order have taken place in the state due to “inactiveness” of the government to catch “anti-social elements”.
In Lucknow, the protest was led by Rajya Sabha MP PL Punia, who alleged that the incident was a “well-planned conspiracy”. He along with others leaders later marched towards Governor House and held a protest outside the gate as well. In Faizabad, the protest was led by former state party president Nirmal Khatri. “The CM is going about making claims on rule of law but it is continuously on the decline,” he said.
According to a party release, Punia said the Mirzapur incident is not a coincidence but a conspiracy to vitiate the atmosphere, said a PTI report.
Protests were also held in Kanpur, Pratapgarh, Farrukhabad, Varanasi, Allahabad and Barabanki, the release said. In Amethi, a constituency once represented by Rajiv Gandhi, Congress workers shouted slogans and burnt the PM’s effigy and later submitted a memorandum addressed to Governor Ram Naik through SDM, Gauriganj, alleging breakdown of law and order in the state, said the PTI report.