Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday strongly condemned the incidents of vandalism of statues in parts of the country and spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the matter. The Union Home Ministry said it had taken serious note of such incidents and that it had directed state governments to take strong action in such cases.
Tripura continued to see post-poll violence for a fourth straight day, even as the Northeast Assembly elections result 2018 sank in. Communist icon and leader Vladimir Lenin became the symbolic casualty, with at least two of his statues in the state being razed or pulled down.
Lenin isn't the only historical figure who has been targeted though. At least six persons were detained when a bust of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee was vandalised in Kolkata on Wednesday. Further, a statue of social reformer and founder of Dravidian movement E V Ramasamy "Periyar" was allegedly vandalised in Tamil Nadu's Vellore district on Tuesday night.
The Left was defeated in the Tripura Assembly polls 2018 by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), which together won a two-thirds majority in the House in a state where the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) had been in power for 25 years.
Both the BJP and the CPI(M) have urged everyone to maintain peace. Chief Minister-designate Biplab Kumar Deb repeatedly urged Tripura's people not to disturb the peace and abstain from attacking the rival party's members. He said that anybody indulging in violence would be punished.
On Tuesday, Rajnath Singh had spoken to state Governor Tathagata Roy and the director general of police and asked them to ensure peace till a new government was installed.
Meanwhile, according to reports, at least two statues of communist leader Lenin were brought down in South Tripura. Along with the CPI(M), Opposition parties, including the Congress and the All India Trinamool Congress, condemned the razing of these statues.
Here are the top 10 developments surrounding the post-poll violence in Tripura and the razing of Lenin's statues:
1) PM Modi disapproves of statue vandalism: On Wednesday, as the incidents of defacement and vandalism spread beyond Tripura, Prime Minister Modi "strongly disapproved" incidents of vandalism of statues in certain parts of the country. Further, the Prime Minister spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the matter.
2) MHA asks states to take strong action: Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry said that it has taken serious note of such incidents of vandalism. Further, the ministry said that it has directed state governments to take strong action in such cases.
In an advisory to all states and Union Territories, the Home Ministry has said that incidents of toppling and damaging statues have been reported from certain parts of the country and that it has taken serious note of such incidents.
"The MHA has asked the states that they must take all necessary measures to prevent such incidents," it said.
Further, the ministry said that state governments were told that persons involved in such acts should be sternly dealt with and booked under the relevant provisions of the law.
"Honourable Prime Minister has also spoken to the Home Minister in this regard," the advisory said.3) Two Lenin statues brought down in Tripura: BJP activists razed two statues of Vladimir Lenin in Tripura, CPI(M) leaders said. On Tuesday night, Tripura CPI(M) State Secretary Bijan Dhar said: "A statue of Vladimir Lenin was knocked down by BJP activists on Monday night at Sabroom in southern Tripura." He added, "The statue was set up a few years ago."
Sabroom is 135 km south of the state capital.
On Monday evening, BJP activists brought down an 11.5-feet fibre statue of Vladimir Lenin with a bulldozer in Belonia, according to an earlier report.
Speaking to the media earlier on Tuesday, CPI(M) leader Haripada Das said: "The BJP supporters, chanting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', knocked down the statue of Lenin near a government college in Belonia." Das added that the statue was set up a year ago in Belonia, South Tripura's district headquarters, around 90 km from Agartala.
The state police corroborated the fact that the communist icon's statues had been razed. On Tuesday, the police said that two statues of Vladimir Lenin were brought down in South Tripura. The statues were pulled down just days after the Left was defeated in the 2018 Assembly polls by the BJP and its ally IPFT.
4) Post-poll violence continues; CPI(M) blames BJP, IPFT: The CPI(M) has accused the BJP and the IPFT of unleashing an "unprecedented reign of terror" across the state after the Tripura Assembly election 2018 results were announced on March 3.
Das said, "We are getting a huge number of reports from different districts on Tuesday about BJP and IPFT workers attacking CPI-M members and supporters and demolishing their assets."
Since Saturday, around 520 CPI(M) supporters have been injured in attacks by BJP and IPFT party workers in more than 225 places across Tripura, Dhar alleged. Speaking to the media, Dhar said: "Arsoning, attacks, and loot were carried out in around 1,745 houses. Many rubber gardens and small vehicles, hundreds of small shops, were forcibly occupied, ransacked or burned at around 500 places."
According to him, on Tuesday, Taher Mia, a middle-aged man, died of a heart attack when BJP workers detonated crude bombs in front of his house at Baxanagar in Western Tripura.
He added that across the state, around 535 party offices and CPI(M)'s frontal organisation offices were attacked, forcibly captured, and set on fire.
Dhar, also a CPI(M) central committee member, said, "We urge the administration and the BJP leadership to take adequate measures to stop this post-poll violence immediately." Dhar added, "In a democratic system, a change of government is usual, but violence in such a grave form is not acceptable."
5) BJP accuses CPI(M) of 'provoking violence': The BJP, for its part, has accused the Left party of attacks on its supporters. Tripura BJP Vice-President Subal Bhowmik accused the CPI(M) of "deliberately provoking and indulging in violence and attacks on BJP supporters".
Bhowmik said that there have been 49 incidents of attacks on party workers and supporters by CPI(M) cadre in the past 48 hours. He added that 17 BJP supporters were injured in these attacks.
He warned all concerned that the law would take its own course against the attackers, irrespective of party affiliations.
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6) Prohibitory orders in place: In an attempt to prevent post-poll violence, the district administration in several districts deployed additional security forces and promulgated prohibitory orders. Such actions came following reports of clashes between BJP and CPI-M workers in different parts of Tripura.
Further, according to district magistrate Milind Ramteke, prohibitory orders were clamped down on several areas of West Tripura district, including Srinagar, Lefunga, Mandai, Amtali, Radhapur, Arundhatinagar, Jirania, and Mohanpur.
West Tripura district police chief Abhijit Saptarshi said that the police have arrested some people in Mandai in Western Tripura for indulging in violence.
7) Congress slams BJP for pulling down Lenin's statues: The Congress on Tuesday flayed the BJP in Tripura for pulling down statues of Vladimir Lenin. The Opposition party said that the BJP was intolerant, adding that a government that is intolerant cannot run a democracy. Further, the Congress said that the BJP had become arrogant after coming to power in the state.
"There is not tolerance in them. The government which is intolerant cannot be democratic. To run a democracy, they have to be tolerant," said senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, adding, "This is what the Constitution says. Unless there is liberty, equality, fraternity and tolerance, the government cannot be run in a democratic way."
"After coming to power, they have become arrogant and are making mistakes," Kharge said, adding, "They are not just pulling down statues of leaders like Lenin but are also killing Dalits and spreading hatred, apart from harassing and threatening people."
8) Kolkata's Left protests: On Tuesday, hundreds of Left activists poured out on the streets of Kolkata protesting the razing of a statue of Lenin in Tripura. The Communist Party of India-Marxist brought out a huge rally from its Kolkata district office to the base of the Communist patriarch's statue in the city hub Dharamtala.
Senior CPI-M leaders, including General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, politburo members Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Secretary of its West Bengal unit Surjya Kanta Mishra, and state Left Front chairman Biman Bose, participated in the rally. Delegates attending the party's ongoing 25th state conference also walked the distance.
While raising slogans condemning the incident, the protestors carried banners with images of Lenin and held aloft scores of red flags. They also decried the attacks on Marxist cadres, instances of arson targeting CPI-M offices and their capture by "BJP goons", and the ransacking of houses of CPI-M workers and leaders.
To protest the happenings in Tripura, another Left party, the Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist, burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What happened in #Tripura is unacceptable in a democratic order. If you mount this kind of attack after your victory, it is a clear expression of your anti-democratic character. This will be answered back democratically: Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) pic.twitter.com/iAYwvCEYI7— ANI (@ANI) March 6, 2018
9) Mamata Banerjee warns the BJP: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday came down heavily on the BJP for carrying out attacks on CPI-M activists and leaders and the demolition of a statue of Lenin in Tripura. Banerjee said that she would protest against such atrocities.
Speaking at a public meeting in Patrasayar in Bankura district, Banerjee said: "Just because somebody has formed a government, it is not his job to raze statues of great men. Being in government does not mean it is somebody's job to murder some others or attack opponents."
Further, the Trinamool Congress chief warned the BJP that despite having an "ideological fight" with the CPI-M, she would not accept such activities. "If you feel just because you have come to power, you will demolish the statue of Marx, Lenin, Gandhiji, Netaji, Swami Vivekananda, we won't accept that," the chief minister said, adding, "I have fought with the CPI-M. We also came to power after 34 years. Please remember, our slogan was 'we want change, not revenge'."
Banerjee said that whatever was happening in Tripura was "not democracy".
10) Governor Tathagata Roy posts controversial tweet: A controversial tweet posted by state Governor Tathagata Roy also raised hackles in some quarters. "What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa," he tweeted.
What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa https://t.co/Og8S1wjrJs— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) March 5, 2018
Reacting to the tweet, Yechury said, "The tweet by the governor is unfortunate... This shows how constitutional posts are being undermined."
Asked by a TV news channel for his comment, Roy said, "Yechury may go on making charges. It is not my duty to reply."
With agency inputs