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Youth arrested for statue desecration

Atiq Khan

LUCKNOW: Even as the situation in Kanpur was officially described as under control on Friday, youth damaged vehicles in Kakadeo locality of the industrial metropolis.

They also blocked traffic before the police dispersed them.

They were protesting against the arrest of Arun Kumar Balmiki on Thursday by the Kakadeo police for allegedly desecrating the Ambedkar statue.

The police said the youth was intoxicated at the time of committing the act of vandalism. Balmiki was released on bail on Friday. A Home Department spokesman, however, denied that he had been released.

Ashok Kumar Verma, Special Secretary, Home, told newspersons that a hunt was on for two of Balmiki's accomplices.

The district administration thwarted the attempts of a Congress delegation, led by former bureaucrat P.L. Punia, to visit the locality.

Mr. Punia reached Circuit House late in the evening but was prevented by the District Magistrate and the Senior Superintendent of Police from visiting the area.

Protesting against the move, he, along with other Congress workers sat on a dharna in front of the Circuit House.

Republican Party of India president Ramadas Athawale reached Kanpur on Friday to visit the site of desecration.

Due to the heavy police bandobast in the area, it seemed unlikely that Mr. Athawale would be able to visit the locality.

Deep-seated animosity

State RPI vice-president S.R. Darapuri told The Hindu that the incident displayed the deep-seated animosity towards Dalits, which found expression in disfiguring and dishonouring Dalit icons such as Dr. Ambedkar.

"As it were, according to the report of the National Crime Bureau, Uttar Pradesh topped the list of atrocities committed against Dalits with very few cases being registered by the police," he said.

Mr. Darapuri, who is also the vice-president of the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Mahasabha, said the Mahasabha held a meeting on Friday to decide the future course of action.

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