Other States

Sambhaji Brigade vandalises statue of litterateur R.G. Gadkari in Pune

The statue of Ram ganesh gadkari at Sambhaji Park in Pune.  

Activists of the pro-Maratha Sambhaji Brigade vandalised the bust of legendary Marathi litterateur Ram Ganesh Gadkari on Tuesday, claiming that the writer had negatively portrayed King Sambhaji, the eldest son of the Maratha warrior king Shivaji Maharaj, in his early 20th century play Raj-Sanyas.

The vandals uprooted Gadkari’s bust in the heart of the city’s Sambhaji Park, and threw into the nearby Mutha River. The incident came to light after morning joggers alerted the authorities.

Speaking to The Hindu, Santosh Shinde of the Sambhaji Brigade said: “It is intolerable that a person, who had so comprehensively defamed King Sambhaji in his play, should have a bust in the very park named after the great King.”

The Brigade claims that Gadkari, in his unfinished Raj-Sanyas, portrayed Sambhaji as an alcoholic and womaniser.

Hours after the incident, the outfit took to social media to congratulate the vandals with Mr. Shinde remarking that the act was their outfit’s ‘New Year’s gift,’ stating that the Brigade was proud of the incident.

The accused Harshavardhan Magdum, Pradeep Kanse, Swapnil Kale and Ganesh Karle have claimed responsibility for the act and said they would surrender before the police. The Deccan police have lodged a case against the accused under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement Act, 1995.

“The incident (vandalism) is the culmination of their activists’ collective ire after the Pune Municipal Corporation did not pay any heed to our outfit’s repeated demands of removing Gadkari’s bust. It has been our crusade since the past several years to install King Sambhaji’s statue in lieu of Gadkari’s bust. We have further demanded that besides a befitting statue to King Sambhaji, lines from his works be inscribed in the monument,” Mr. Shinde said.

The incident has met with condemnation from social and political outfits with Pune Mayor Prashant Jagtap decrying the incident as a deliberate attempt to cause schisms between sections of the city’s residents.

“We will ensure that R.G. Gadkari’s statue is reinstalled,” Mr. Jagtap said.

The cinema wing of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led a protest march, strongly censuring the act.

R.G. Gadkari, a doyen of Marathi literature during the early 20 century, was a poet, humourist and playwright, is renowned for his plays marked with spontaneity, complex characterizations and a whiff of the absurd. He was also noted for his mastery of English, through his extensive study of Shakespeare and Shelley, and frequently introduced the Shakespearean tragic vein in his plays. 

Among his completed plays are Premsanyas (‘Love Renounced’ in 1912), the fantasy Punyaprabhav (‘Force of Virtue’ in 1916) and the sobering Ekach Pyala (‘One glass more’ in 1917) on the ravages of alcoholism.

His Raj Sanyas (roughly translated as ‘Kingdom Renounced’) remained incomplete at the time of his death in 1919, when he passed away aged just 34.

The Sambhaji Brigade snared headlines in 2004 after it vandalised the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune in protest against American scholar James Laine’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India (2003).

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 3:26:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Sambhaji-Brigade-vandalises-statue-of-litterateur-R.G.-Gadkari-in-Pune/article16982303.ece

Next Story