The Panchmahal district collector has decided to replace a newly-build replica of iconic “Gyarah Murti” depicting the Dandhi march installed as a relief on a wall in the central part of Godhra town because one of the characters was missing.
The relief sculpture installed at Church Circle on Methodist Church’s wall shows Mahatma Gandhi leading the march with nine followers, all painted in gold, instead of 10 as is the sequence in the original sculpture on Sardar Patel Marg in New Delhi.
In Gyrah Murti, the characters, except Gandhi, depict common Indian belonging to different religions, castes and economic backgrounds.
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Built by the Godhra Municipality, the statue has not been inaugurated. Artists completed it in the last week of June when representations, even from BJP, were sent to the Municipality, protesting the incongruity.
Collector P Bharati told The Indian Express, “I have ordered the authority concerned to change or modify it, till then it will be covered. One important figure was missing from the art work.” The sculpture was made by Kolkata-based artists who worked on it for over a month.
Digesh Parikh, social activist and BJP member, had written to the Panchmahal collector saying, “The sculpture sends out a wrong message to the society. In the original sculpture, the artist (Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury) has depicted people from all castes and religions, while in Godhra replica one key character is missing.”
He further stated the historic sculpture gave a message of harmony and equality, but officials of Godhra Nagarpalika ignored this “core value in the artwork”, which showed disrespect. Parikh also asked the collector to take action against the officials concerned. The social activist said he has not received any reply from the collector’s office.
However, Godhra Nagarpalika chief officer Nitin Bodat said the relief was not a “copy of Gyarah Murti”.
“We went ahead with this artwork based on a photograph shown to us by the artist. There may be many moments during the Dandi March and we selected one which had only 10 figures. This is not a copy of Gyarah Murti statue in Delhi,” he said.