Statue damage: Jani used Facebook to ‘mobilise’ youth

The attack on former chief minister Mayawati’s statues at Ambedkar Memorial last Thursday took the police by surprise,but Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena president Amit Jani had announced his plan to launch an agitation as early as July 16 on his Facebook page and the website of his organisation.

Written by RAMENDRA SINGH | Lucknow | Published: July 31, 2012 3:47:56 am

The attack on former chief minister Mayawati’s statues at Ambedkar Memorial last Thursday took the police by surprise,but Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena president Amit Jani had announced his plan to launch an agitation as early as July 16 on his Facebook page and the website of his organisation.

Jani had put together a network of youths using Facebook and,interestingly,the four youths who damaged the statue were not well acquainted with each other,said Lucknow IG/SSP Ashutosh Pandey.

On July 16,Jani posted a message on his Facebook page,asking his ‘friends’ to get formal membership of UPNS by July 20. The message said,“After that,all office bearers will meet in Lucknow on July 25. And after a press conference in Lucknow,UPNS will blow the bugle of Jan Andolan.” In a post on July 19,Jani asked his followers to be prepared for a protest against “the oppression of former CM Mayawati” on July 26 and come out in large numbers on the streets to burn her effigies. “All workers will express their anger on the streets with the slogans of ‘Mayawati murdabad’ and ‘Akhilesh Yadav zindabad’,” it said. A similar message was posted on the website of UPNS. He had also posted an open letter to CM Akhilesh Yadav on the website of UPNS,saying that if the statues of Mayawati were not removed by the state government,the cadre of UPNS would demolish them.

Jani has more than 2,900 ‘friends’ on Facebook,but the fact that there has been no “Jan Andolan” shows that he had overestimated his numerical strength.

Following his July 16 message,20 youths,most of whom were from western UP,Lucknow and neighbouring districts,and knew Jani through Facebook,reached the UP Press Club last Thursday.

Jani was planning to give identity cards of UPNS to his ‘friends’ on Facebook. He had started a membership drive on July 1 and had set a target of getting 10,000 members enrolled.

As per his Facebook page,before coming to Lucknow Jani had held press conferences in Agra on July 11 and Etawah and Kanpur on July 12. A day before the incident,Jani and six others — Shagun Tyagi,Pavan Sharma,Rajendra Singh Ferari,Akash,Rajesh Kashyap,Gaurav Chaudhary — had checked into a hotel here. They met the press conference organisers and bought three hammers which were taken to the Press Club,said police.

Among the four who damaged the statue,two have been identified as Kasim Chaudhary alias Kasim Ali,Syed Labib Haider Naqvi,said Gomti Nagar Station Officer Manoj Kumar Mishra. They had not been formally introduced to each other. It was decided on the spot who will damage the statue. The four youths left on two motorcycles for Ambedkar Memorial while Jani was addressing the media. The police have arrested Kasim while Naqvi,a resident of Moradabad,is on the run. After damaging the statue,Naqvi dropped Kasim at Chinhat Tiraha.

BSP delegation meets Akhilesh

LUCKNOW: A delegation of BSP leaders led by the leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Swami Prasad Maurya met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and expressed concern over the security of the parks,memorials and statues across the state. Maurya was accompanied by BSP national general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui and BSP’s state unit president Ram Achal Rajbhar.

Talking to The Indian Express,Maurya said Yadav expressed regret for the recent incidents in which statues of Dr Ambedkar were vandalised in Azamgarh and Ambedkar Nagar. According to him,Yadav directed the Principal Secretary (Home) and DGP to ensure proper security of the parks,memorials and statues. “The Chief Minister has given clear instruction to both the top officials — Principal Secretary (Home) and DGP — to make the circle officers/station house officers concerned accountable for any such incident in the future,” Maurya said.

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