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Mookerjee's bust vandalised in Kol; PM, Shah condemn razing of icons' statues

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Kolkata/Chennai/New Delhi: A bust of Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was vandalised in Kolkata today, allegedly by Left supporters, an obvious act of retribution following the razing of statues of Soviet icon Vladimir Illyich Lenin in Tripura, officials said.

As an unseemly fallout of the BJP's historic triumph in the Left bastion of Tripura, suspected right-wing activists had pulled down two statues of Lenin at different places in the tiny north-eastern state.

Today, seven people belonging to a Left-leaning group called 'Radical' vandalised the bust of Mookerjee in south Kolkata. All the seven, including a woman, were arrested, Kolkata police commissioner Rajiv Kumar said.

The incident also followed desecration of a bust of Dravidian movement founder E V Ramasamy Periyar in Tamil Nadu's Vellore after a Facebook post by a senior BJP leader. The incident triggered widespread protests across the state .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the incidents of vandalism of statues and warned of stern action against those found guilty.

The prime minister also spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh about it and expressed his strong disapproval of such incidents, according to an official statement in New Delhi.

"The MHA has asked the states that they must take all necessary measures to prevent such incidents," a Home Ministry statement said, adding the state governments were told to sternly deal with the offenders.

"I appeal to everyone, all parties, that anyone indulging in such acts should be dealt with strictly. These incidents can never be justified," Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters outside Parliament.

BJP chief Amit Shah termed the desecration of Lenin's statues in Tripura and Periyar's bust in Tamil Nadu "extremely unfortunate", and asserted that any party member found involved in destroying a statue will face severe action.

In a series of tweets, Shah distanced the BJP from the vandalism after a few party leaders appeared to endorse the incidents.

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