Crime
A group of activists were planning to install the statue for Ambedkar Jayanthi; however, GHMC officials seized it saying they did not have the required permissions.
Image: Facebook/Dhanavath Ashok

Around 2 am on Saturday, members of the Jai Bheem Society were gathered in front of the Hyderabad Central mall to install a statue of Dr BR Ambedkar, ahead of Ambedkar Jayanthi on Sunday. However, they were stopped by officials of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) – while the group said they had the required permissions, the officials said they did not and seized the statue around 4 am. And later in the day, the statue was found broken and dumped in garbage.

On Saturday morning, the statue was picked up and loaded into a truck, and taken to the Kotla Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy stadium in Yousufguda for storage by GHMC officials. However, the stadium was being used to store Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as polling for the Telangana Lok Sabha elections had just been completed.

As a result, the statue was then shifted to the Yousufguda GHMC yard nearby. And here, the statue was allegedly placed in a garbage truck, and an attempt was made to shift it to Jawaharnagar, where the city's main dumpyard is located.

As news of this spread, several unidentified people gathered at Keesara and stopped the vehicle transporting the statue, close to the dumpyard. While the GHMC said that the statue broke during this scuffle, Dalit activists said that the statue was already broken when it was unloaded. The Jawaharnagar police had to be called to disperse the crowd.

Images later showed broken pieces of the Ambedkar statue lying among garbage.

Incidentally, the statue was being installed next to another statue, that of late Chief Minister Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy, which reportedly did not have permission. However, YSR’s statue was left untouched.

GHMC Commissioner M Dana Kishore took note of the incident and dubbed it 'unfortunate'. He also told mediapersons that an internal probe was launched, headed by an IAS officer, and that strict action would be taken against those found guilty.

The GHMC also stated that it had taken action against a yard operator in Yousufguda who loaded the statue on to the garbage truck.

A case has been registered with the Jawaharnagar police station under Section 427 of the IPC and relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Meanwhile, the Congress party condemned the incident. Speaking to reporters, All India Congress Committee (AICC) Spokesperson Dr Sravan Dasoju said, "Jai Bheem Society wanted to install the Ambedkar statue and also sought permission. They wanted the statue to be unveiled on his birth anniversary on April 14. However, GHMC authorities demolished the statue and its debris was thrown in the Jawaharnagar dumping yard. Those who protested against the demolition were subjected to lathi charge by the local police. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao must tender an unconditional apology and install Dr Ambedkar's statue at the same place at the government's cost."