What happened on Thursday?
On Thursday morning, a group of people belonging to the Bhim Army, a Dalit rights organisation, pulled down a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first deputy prime minister of India, with a tractor in Makdone town of Ujjain district in Madhya Pradesh. They demanded that a statue of Dr B R Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution and a Dalit icon, be installed at the same spot instead of Patel’s. The statue of Patel was reportedly installed at a site close to the Makdone bus stand on Wednesday night by some members of the Patidar community, who consider Patel as their leader.
The incident triggered a violent clash between the two communities, who pelted stones at each other and damaged several vehicles. Police personnel rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the situation, but were also attacked by the mob. Three people, including a sub-inspector, were injured in the stone-pelting. The police had to resort to lathi-charge and tear gas shells to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control.
How did the authorities react?
The authorities imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits the assembly of more than four people, in the area to prevent any further violence. They also deployed a large number of police personnel and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel to maintain law and order. The district administration also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and promised to take strict action against the culprits.
The police have so far arrested 19 persons in connection with the clash, and booked them for rioting and using criminal force to deter a public servant from performing their duty. They are also looking for the main accused who pulled down the statue with the tractor. The police have seized the tractor and some other vehicles used by the mob.
What is the current situation?
The situation in Makdone town is peaceful and normal as of Saturday, according to the police. The markets are open and the people are carrying out their daily activities. There is no tension or animosity between the two communities, and the police are keeping an eye on the situation. The status quo remains intact at the disputed site, where the statue of Patel was toppled. The police have also appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony and not to pay heed to any rumours or misinformation.
Who was Sardar Patel and why is he revered?
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly known as the Iron Man of India, was one of the founding fathers of the Indian Republic. He played a crucial role in the integration of over 500 princely states into the Indian Union after independence. He was also the first home minister and deputy prime minister of India, and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He is widely regarded as a visionary leader and a statesman who contributed to the nation-building process. He is also considered as the patron saint of the Patidar community, who are mainly farmers and traders from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Who was Dr Ambedkar and why is he revered?
Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, was a social reformer, jurist, economist, and politician who fought for the rights and dignity of the Dalits and other oppressed sections of the society. He was the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality, liberty, and justice to all citizens. He was also the first law minister of India, and the leader of the Scheduled Castes Federation. He is widely regarded as the father of the Indian Republic and a champion of democracy and human rights. He is also considered as the messiah of the Dalits and other backward classes, who revere him as a god.