Updated: September 27, 2021 9:16:00 am
Anger against the UP government simmered at a mahapanchayat in Dadri on Sunday, which was called by members of the Gurjar community to protest the removal of the word ‘Gurjar’ from the plaque on a statue of 9th Century king Mihir Bhoj.
The statue was unveiled by UP CM Yogi Adityanath at Mihir Bhoj Inter College on Wednesday. Locals claim the word ‘Gurjar’ was deliberately omitted from the plaque. Several speakers, from village leaders to Gurjar organisation members, addressed 2,000-odd people and said they wanted to send a “message” to the government through the gathering. They said the omission was an ‘insult’, and that the government has 10 days to restore the title.
“This has now become a matter of honour for the Gurjar community. We cannot be insulted anymore. We have to send a message to the ruling government in a dignified fashion. We are not dependent on any party or organisation for our self-respect…,” said Avtar Singh Bhadana, a Gurjar leader and former BJP MP.
On Wednesday morning, before the CM arrived for the inauguration, locals claimed some “miscreants” blacked out the ‘Gurjar’ before the name Mihir Bhoj on the plaque. However, on another portion the statue, a list of donors has been engraved and the title above reads ‘Gurjar Samrat Mihir Bhoj’.
A BJP leader put up a sticker that read Gurjar over the painted portion, which was also removed later, locals said.
This triggered a controversy once the speech ended, with some locals saying the CM had “denied” Mihir Bhoj his actual legacy. “It is evident that the Chief Minister did not come as Yogi Adityanath but as Ajay Bisht. If you are a Yogi, you will not go into the religion or caste of someone and rather give due recognition. With this act, the community has been given a wrong signal. All of us have gathered to plan more protests and make them realise the unity of the Gurjar community,” said Sonu Gurjar, convenor, Rashtriya Gurjar Veer Sena.
Shortly after the function, a call for Sunday’s mahapanchayat was made in the college. Heavy police force was deployed and the gates to the college and the statue podium were locked. The gathering was then shifted to the Shiv Mandir a few metres ahead.
Police detained nearly 200 people for violating Section 144 and said no permission had been given for the gathering. “It was a peaceful gathering and heavy force had been deployed at several corners. A few protesters were taken to Police Lines and later released. We will continue to monitor the situation,” said Vishal Pandey, ADCP, Gautam Buddh Nagar. An FIR was also filed in Jewar police station against 150 named and 600 unnamed people for alleged violation of the government order and the Epidemic Act, said police.
Tensions have been simmering in the region after local Karni Sena members had earlier said Mihir Bhoj was a Rajput icon and was being “misappropriated” as a Gurjar leader. A 9th Century leader, he had led successful campaigns in Deccan, Malwa and Gujarat region. He also led battles against Arab invaders and rulers from Rajasthan.
Prior to Wednesday’s event, some members of the Gurjar and Rajput communities entered a truce and decided not to raise the issue of Bhoj’s lineage. There is also anger against area MLA from BJP and Gurjar leader Tejpal Nagar as some feel he has abandoned the community to toe the party line. Nagar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
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