Ambedkar statue demolished
By Our Staff Reporter

VONTIMITTA (Cuddapah), JAN. 6. Tension gripped Vontimitta mandal headquarters following the demolition of a statue of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar by unidentified persons in the early hours of Saturday.

Leaders and activists of various Dalit organisations staged a rasta roko in front of the police station leaving scores of vehicles stranded on either side of the Cuddapah-Chennai national highway for about an hour, deflated Government jeeps immobilising Janmabhoomi officials and enforced a total bandh in Vontimitta town. The statue was installed at a three-road junction in front of Sri Kodandarama Swamy temple on the Cuddapah-Chennai national highway on April 14, 1999, at a function in which the Rajya Sabha member, Mr. C. Ramachandraiah, was chief guest. The five-foot high-pedestal and the statue over it appeared to have been demolished by a poclain. A Dalit youth reportedly found the statue uprooted around 4.30 a.m. today and informed the local people as well as Dalit organisation leaders at Cuddapah. The general secretary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Mission, Mr. A. Sampath Kumar, SC/ST Welfare Association president, Mr. T. Gangulaiah, APSEB SC/ST Employees Association president, Mr. C. Gangulaiah, and Mr. Y. Pagidalaiah reached Vontimitta and organised a rasta roko in front of the police station.

They gave up the rasta roko after the Circle Inspector, Mr. B. Govindaswamy, held discussions with Dalit leaders and registered a case on a complaint lodged by them. He assured stern action against the culprits after holding a comprehensive enquiry. The Dalit leaders then called for a bandh and a large number of Dalit youths went round the town and ensured closure of shops and hotels.

They later proceeded to the MRO office and deflated the tyres of jeeps of the nodal officer, Mr. Ramulu, and the MRO, Mrs. Ramasubbamma. When they tried to pacify the protesters, they demanded that the District Collector, Mr. Adhar Sinha, come here and give them a concrete assurance.

As tension continued, the Joint Collector, Mr. G. Balaramaiah, reached the place. The Joint Collector's attempts to pacify the Dalit leaders yielded no result.

Mr. Sampath Kumar and other Dalit leaders decried that the statue had been in veil since its installation in April, 1999 due to an order issued by the Collector. They threatened to continue the agitation unless the district administration reinstalled a new statue of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar at the same place at Government's cost.

Later, a suggestion was made by a native of the town that the district administration procure a statue within 24 hours and a pedestal be built near the police station.

The statue could be placed at the same place for a while and after its garlanding, could be shifted to the new site. Agreeing to this, the Dalit leaders called off their agitation.

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