4 accused in Lenin statue demolition

Notices served on four more for Tripura statue attacks; Assam rally over attacks on Left supporters

By Debraj Deb and Manash Pratim Dutta in Agartala
  • Published 8.03.18
Left Front activists protest in Guwahati on Wednesday against the demolition of a Lenin statue in Tripura. Picture by UB Photos

Agartala: Tripura police on Wednesday served notices to four persons suspected to be involved in the demolition of a statue of Lenin at Belonia in South Tripura district on Monday.

Superintendent of police (South) Manchak Ipper said no political connection had been established till now.

In Assam, the Left-Democratic Manch, a union of 11 political parties of the state, took out a rally in protest against the incident.

A video of the incident, showing a group believed to be BJP supporters, shouting Bharat Mata ki jai while a payloader toppled a 14-foot statue of Lenin, went viral.

The incident was later confirmed to have taken place at College Square, Belonia, in South Tripura, 90km from here, two days after the BJP-IPFT combine swept the Tripura Assembly polls, winning 43 out of the 59 seats and unseating the CPM-led Left Front.

The four were served notices under Article 41 CrPC (arrest without warrant) and asked to report to the police for interrogation. "Based on the outcome, we shall decide how to proceed further," Ipper said.

Among them, Raju Nath has already been interrogated. The others, including the owner of the bulldozer, Suman Majumder, and Manik Das and Uttam Saha, are expected to present themselves before the police in the next two days, failing which they will be arrested.

Ashish Paul, who drove the bulldozer on Monday, was arrested the same day. Based on his confession, the four others were booked, the police said.

Ipper told The Telegraph that the video was being examined.

CPM state secretary Bijan Dhar alleged that the BJP and the IPFT were responsible behind the "heinous attacks" at Belonia and Sabroom, where a bust of Lenin was vandalised.

"We condemn such incidents. We feel that the BJP and IPFT are behind the toppling of the Lenin statue at Belonia. Everybody saw them jeering when the statue fell," he said, referring to the video clip that went viral.

He added that Tripura governor Tathagata Roy, who is a former BJP leader, had "defended" the toppling of the statues. The governor said in a tweet on Tuesday that any democratically elected government could undo work done by another elected government, and vice versa.

BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb said nobody involved in the attack on Lenin statues was from the BJP. "They are all underground cadres of the CPM. All who did this should be strictly punished," he said.

The BJP state president and chief minister designate, Biplab Kumar Deb, had warned on Tuesday that nobody would be spared if they were found involved in post-poll violence.

The police said 11 clashes between the BJP and CPM supporters were registered across Tripura in the last 24 hours. The situation is "completely under control", superintendent of police (control) Pradip De said. Fourteen complaints have been filed since poll results were announced on Saturday.

Two CPM and four BJP supporters were injured in a clash at Alambazaar in Dharmanagar subdivision of North Tripura district on Tuesday. Four persons were arrested over the incident on Tuesday night.

In Guwahati, the Left-Democratic Manch marched in protest against the demolition of Lenin's statue in Belonia. The group comprises CPM, CPI, CPI(M-L), Janata Dal (Secular), Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Asom Sangrami Mancha, Liberal Democratic Party, Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Communist Party of India.

"Just after the election results, the BJP and the RSS launched attacks on the people. This way, they have just proved their intolerance of politics. Demolishing the statue was the worst example of the BJP's politics of hatred. We have to work together to safeguard democracy from such forces," the convener of the union, Deven Bhattacharya, said.

The rally began from Guwahati club area and ended near the RBI, Guwahati office.