March 6, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Agartala: In the heart of Belonia town in Tripura’s extreme south, a statue of Communist icon Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, had stood at the centre of College Square for the last five years. But 48 hours after the state assembly elections result was declared, it is reported that a mob mainly consisting of workers of ‘pro-hindutva’ Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) torn down that statue with the help of a JCB amid Hindutva cries of “Bharat Mata ki jai’’.
While the CPI(M), which lost power in the state after 25 years, described the incident as an example of “Communism phobia”, one the other hand the BJP claimed that the statue was brought down by people “oppressed” by the Left.
In South Tripura’s Belonia, a statue of Lenin razed amid chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. This, less than 48 hours after the BJP stormed to power ending a 25-year-long Left rule.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) March 5, 2018
“Eyewitnesses told me that after the statue fell, its head was dismembered from the body. And then, the BJP workers played football with Lenin’s head,’’ Tapas Datta, CPI(M)’s Belonia sub-division secretary purportedly said in his statement.
South Tripura SP Ipper Monchak whilst interacting with the media said that the driver of the JCB, Ashish Pal, was arrested in the evening and let off on bail. “The statue remains where it has fallen. It will be removed by police tomorrow and given to the municipality for storage,” he adds.
Talking about the statue Tapas Datta, reportedly said that the 11.5-ft fibre-glass statue was sculpted by local artist Krishna Debnath at a cost of Rs 3 lakh. It was installed as the party began its 21st year of rule, after winning the 2013 assembly elections.
Furthermore, justifying the act of his party workers BJP south district secretary Raju Nath said that the statute fell because of an “overflow of anger”.
“For years, there has been resentment against this statue of Lenin. It was built by the municipality and funded by the taxpayers’ money. Why should the taxpayer have to finance a statue of Lenin? Even if it was a statue of our former CPI(M) chief minister Nripen Chakraborty, nobody would have touched it — he was one of us and belonged to the country. But what does this foreigner Lenin have to do with our people?’’ reads the statement of Raju Nath published in an English vernacular.
Apparently, CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar in his statement alleged that the the incident was the latest in a string of attacks targeting his party after the BJP-IPFT alliance came to power.
“Our party workers and supporters are being attacked physically, leaders are being threatened, our offices are being occupied, vandalised and set on fire… as are the homes of many of our workers. The bringing down of the statue is nothing but Communism phobia,’’ he further claimed in his statement.