Desecration of Ambedkar's statue sparks off tension in Nagpur slums

NAGPUR, OCT 29: Tension gripped the Vaishali Nagar slums on the outskirts of the city near Chichbhuvan railway overbridge three days ago after a shoe sole was found near the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, located in the slums.

The desecration incident came to light early in the morning when people gathered near the public tap situated close to the statue to fill drinking water. Sensation prevailed in the area after people saw the piece of footwear on the platform on which the statue of Dr Ambedkar is located. Irked residents virtually surged to the place.

The incident generated anger among the residents in the locality and people were in a mood to stage a rasta roko. But timely intervention by Republican Party of India (RPI) leaders, who reached the spot after learning about the incident, pacified the irate residents by removing the shoe sole.They also performed `'pooja of the statue to maintain its sanctity.

The Sonegaon police believe that the incident had occurred owing to differences between members of the Putala Sarankshan Committee, formed to protect the statue. Two members of the community were immediately held for interrogation. The Sonegaon police also sought help from the dog squad but the squad failed to provide any clues.

According to senior police officials, a similar incident of desecration had occurred at Vaishali Nagar slums in 1998, when one of the residents, who lodged complaint against the act then, was actually found to have been involved in the desecration. The person was chargesheeted then and the trial is yet to begin.

These officials did not rule out the possibility of involvement of persons from the same locality. Police are also investigating whether a quarrel that occurred between two groups of the slums recently had anything to with the incident.

Senior RPI officials visited the locality and urged people to maintain peace in the area. The police have posted armed guards around the statue.

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