Following vandalisation of the life-size statue of the former Chief Minister Mayawati, allegedly by the Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena at the Ambedkar Park complex in Gomtinagar here on Thursday, Bahujan Samaj Party workers took to the streets in several cities. They alleged that the act was supported by the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.
In Jhansi, Muzaffarnagar, Ambedkar Nagar, Deoria, Hardoi, Kanpur, Meerut and Ghaziabad, hundreds of BSP workers resorted to road blockade.
About an hour before the vandals struck at Ms. Mayawati’s statue, NNS president Amit Jani held a press conference at the UP Press Club where he served a 72-hour ultimatum to the government to remove the former Chief Minister’s statues at Noida and Lucknow, or else the Sena would bring them down.
In the guise of photographers
The vandals, masquerading as photographers struck at around 1 p.m. and sped away on motorbikes even before the personnel of the special security force — set up by Ms. Mayawati in her last regime to guard the BSP monuments — could react to the incident.
Even as the government resorted to fire-fighting measures, with the Chief Minister stating that Ms. Mayawati’s statue would be restored and promising the strictest possible action against the culprits, Director-General of Police Ambrish Chandra Sharma admitted that there was an intelligence failure given that a press conference preceded the incident. He said the incident was a conspiracy to create social disharmony and a law and order problem.
In a late night development, work started on the restoration of Ms. Mayawati’s statue in the Ambedkar Park complex. The restoration work was being supervised by State officials. Officials said that a similar statue of Ms. Mayawati would be installed at the site. They said the restoration work would continue the whole night.
Security has been intensified and vigil stepped up in sensitive places and the State government has directed the district police chiefs to ensure the safety of the statues of all the eminent persons.
Three persons have been detained by the police for their role in the incident and an FIR under Sections 153A, 295 of the IPC and Section 3 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, has been lodged against unnamed persons at the Gomtinagar police station.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party workers staged a dharna at the Vidhan Bhawan here in protest against the act of vandalism even as Section 144 was clamped in the entire State late on Thursday night.
While Amit Jani is still at large, the police have detained three persons named Alok Srivastava, R.P. Srivastava and Vishal Mishra. The DGP told reporters that the press conference had been arranged by RP Srivastava and his father. Vishal Mishra is associated with a Lucknow-based PR company.
Mr. Sharma said Alok Srivastava is a former photographer of afternoon daily MiD-DAY. The DGP said the State Intelligence Department had no information about the NNS’ activity in Uttar Pradesh.
When the State police chief’s attention was called to the Facebook profile of Amit Jani and a photograph in which he is shown sitting next to Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr. Sharma said with today’s technology, images can be morphed.
The DGP, however, said Amit Jani alias Amit Agrawal, son of Lakhi Chand, resident of 331, Shiv Shakti Nagar, Brahmapuri in Meerut has criminal antecedents.
Seven cases of damage to public property, dacoity, arson and attempt to murder have been registered against him from 2004 to 2012 in Dehradun, Gajraula, Meerut and Jyotiba Phule Nagar.
In some pamphlets found strewn at the site where Ms. Mayawati’s statue was installed, the NNS claimed responsibility for the act.
With the vandalism threatening to snowball into a confrontation between the BSP and the State government, directives have been issued to prepare a list of antisocial elements and check rumour mongering.
Mob goes on the rampage in Mathura
The vandalisation of the former Chief Minister Mayawati’s statue in Lucknow triggered violence in the district as an infuriated mob on Thursday damaged several vehicles plying on the Mathura-Aligarh road and set ablaze two tankers and a State Roadways bus in the Laxmi Nagar area.
Prior to the agitation, the protesters forced the shopkeepers of the area to observe a shutdown in the market areas.
“Teargas shells and rubber bullets had to be used to disperse the mob which went on the rampage and set two tankers and a roadways bus ablaze,” Chief Development Officer N.K. Paliwal, who is holding the charge of District Magistrate, said. Efforts are being made to control the situation, he said.
Violence broke out in Laxmi Nagar area under Jamuna Paar police station on Mathura-Aligarh road, and despite the repeated warning by the police the protesters refused to withdraw the agitation, Mr. Paliwal said.
Annoyed locals blocked the traffic movement on the important Mathura-Aligarh route, which was later cleared on the assurances given by senior police officials