In the town of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, a symbol of Dalit identity has been 'razed'

In the town of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, a symbol of Dalit identity has been ‘razed’

Within the Sahookara space of ​​Sirauli city, on the outskirts of Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh, a small momentary truck arrived on the night time of November 6, carrying a freshly painted five-foot-tall statue, made in Meerut with crowd-funded cash over eight-12 months. The platform the statue was to face on was prepared, work had been occurring for weeks now. There was pleasure within the neighborhood of the Jatav households. The statue was put in the identical night.

Whereas the statue’s face did not fairly look the identical, the blue swimsuit, crimson tie and black-rimmed glasses, with one arm raised and the opposite bearing the Structure of India, made it unmistakable. The neighborhood idol, BR Ambedkar, now stood of their city sq..

A statue of Dr BR Ambedkar stands firm in the village of Tanda, just a few kilometers from where a similar statue was pulled down by the local administration of Sirauli.

A statue of Dr BR Ambedkar stands agency within the village of Tanda, just some kilometers from the place an identical statue was pulled down by the native administration of Sirauli. | Picture credit score: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

However 24 hours later, a harsh police crackdown adopted. Overwhelmed residents stood round, some bleeding, others bruised, and all they may see was the work of a bulldozer that had decreased the statue to rubble of bricks and mortar.

Sirauli police and the district administration claimed the statue had been erected “illegally” on public land and that once they requested residents to take away it, they have been met with rocks, after which “gentle drive” was used. to disperse the gang and take away the statue “respectfully”.

Nevertheless, residents who now stay in Sahookara stated personnel from 5 police stations arrived of their city, a few of whom had climbed onto the roofs of their houses, from which they fired tear fuel canisters, whereas that others “entered our houses to brutally beat them utilizing caste slurs”. They added that the statue was finally eliminated by authorities utilizing a bulldozer.

Amid political events partaking in “aggressive statue constructing” – from that of Sardar Patel and Netaji to that of Ambedkar and Periyar, the apply of Dalit communities in northern India putting in statues of Ambedkar as a way of asserting their identification has seen a rise in recent times. It comes even because the defacing or vandalism of those symbols has more and more change into a manner for upper-caste Hindus to counter-assert their identification, say activists working within the area.

Over the previous 12 months or so, greater than half a dozen circumstances have been reported in Uttar Pradesh of Ambedkar statues being vandalized or defaced by what police have referred to as “unbelievers”, which have generally sparked organizational protests. just like the Bhim military. Many related incidents have additionally been reported in states similar to Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Vikas Babu, a lawyer and Bhim military activist in western Uttar Pradesh, stated incidents of vandalism of Ambedkar statues put in by and in Dalit communities have solely elevated over the previous few years. final months. “Whereas some break the fingers of the statue or injury it in different methods, others attempt to smear the parks the place the statue stands. And this has elevated since an increasing number of Dalit communities search to put in such statues throughout western UP,” Mr Babu stated.

He added that in a number of villages in areas like Badaun, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur and Pilibhit, Dalit communities are more and more searching for to put in statues of Ambedkar, both in parks bearing Ambedkar’s title or on non-public land. . “Weary of asking native authorities to have the statues constructed, many are crowdfunding one another to have the statues made,” he stated.

Whereas within the case of Sirauli, locals managed to boost ₹85,000 for the statue to be commissioned by Meerut artisans, and ₹50,000 to construct the areas across the statue, activists stated a lot of the Villages making an attempt to put in Ambedkar statues collected as many as they may and had the statues constructed of their houses or by native craftsmen. The price of the statues ranges from ₹20,000 to ₹1 lakh, relying on whether or not they’re made by native artisans or workshops in cities like Meerut.

Citing the instance of the residents of the village of Ambiyapur, the place an try to put in a statue was made final 12 months and the police shortly eliminated it, reserving the inhabitants, Mr Babu spoke of a number of villages making an attempt to do the identical.

Within the Mugarra Nagla village of Badaun, residents of the Dalit neighborhood had crowdfunded a couple of weeks earlier to put in a statue of Ambedkar in a park, within the presence of the village chief, however this statue was additionally eliminated by the native authorities inside a day, and residents arrested by police, “who preserve citing convoluted permission procedures for the set up of Ambedkar statues”, Mr Babu stated.

The November incident the place the administration forcibly eliminated an identical statue of the Dalit icon within the city of Sirauli has solely elevated the anger and resentment of the Dalit communities within the area in opposition to the native administration.

“We’ve raised funds from our neighborhood, our metropolis and even the city of Bareilly during the last eight months to a 12 months. Some folks had been saving for years to assist construct a statue of Babasaheb. For weeks we had been constructing the platform to put the statue, the police have been often patrolling the realm they usually already knew we have been organising the statue. We additionally despatched them a letter about it. Two police patrolmen additionally visited the realm once we have been putting in the statue the day earlier than it was eliminated they usually by no means stated we weren’t imagined to,” stated Rohit, a youngster from Sahookara, who was a part of these elevating funds for the statue.

Mamata, one in all many ladies injured within the police motion that led to the statue’s elimination, stated: “We would not have put the statue up if the police or the authorities had even hinted that it wasn’t not approved. Why would we if we knew it will be eliminated the following day? »

After the statue was eliminated in Siruali, locals are slowly discovering assist from small Jatav communities similar to that within the village of Tanda, a couple of kilometers to the west, the place a similar-looking statue of Ambedkar stands in a park. for kids. It was constructed by Sompal Singh, an area. “We initially constructed the statue on our roof, however after some youngsters disfigured a part of it whereas enjoying, we determined to construct an even bigger one in a public place for all to see,” a resident stated.

Mr Singh stated they fastidiously eliminated the defaced statue and buried it within the basis of a cemented platform within the youngsters’s park, on prime of which now stands a brand new statue of the Dalit icon .

When the police arrived with a bulldozer at Sahookara to take away the statue of Ambedkar, the lads fled in worry. The remaining girls pleaded with the authorities to provide them time. “We requested for a day to have the ability to take away the statue with respect, however they began beating us,” Ms Mamata stated.

Listening to what had occurred in Sahookara, Mr. Singh stated, “How can somebody take away a statue of Babasaheb like this? Regardless of these items, the ruling social gathering continues to get votes from members of our personal neighborhood.

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