In an act of provocation and vandalism, miscreants defaced a statue of BR Amdedkar in Salem district. Even as people in the state gather with their loved ones over the Pongal weekend to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season, an Ambedkar statue was doused in red paint. The incident which took place in Mallikundam, near the Salem- Dharmapuri border, is home to over 100 Dalit families.
Early on Saturday morning, people in the area discovered the Ambedkar statue defaced with blood red paint on the face and trousers of the statue. Ambedkar, the architect of independent India’s constitution, is generally depicted carrying the constitution.
The Chief Minister of the state, Edapadi Palaniswami, is visiting Salem on Saturday to inaugurate a pillar at the Mettur Dam Park. The pillar is to commemorate the final order of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in favour of Tamil Nadu. Given the high profile visit and the incident in the Dalit colony, police deployment is high in the area.
The statue was installed in the area three years ago. The locals in the area are conducting a sit in protest in condemnation of the act of vandalism. Even as people began to gather, forensic experts were seen collecting fingerprints on the statue as well as on a pole near the statue which could have been used as support to climb on top of the statue.
The incident also comes close on the heels of an inter-caste couple in Dharmapuri eloping and getting married in December. Security was upped to around 750 personnel in the area following the couple’s elopement, owing to the sensitive nature of the issue in the region. Speaking to the The News Minute at the time, Dharmapuri Superintendent of Police Pandi Gangadhar had said, “Old grievances and enmities may come up during this time as everyone returns to their native place. We don’t want to take any chances.”