Though residents say there was no sudden need to place the old statue that was installed barely four years ago, for some a new statue is a symbol of pride.

BJPs Raja Singh in trouble with cops but residents support illegal statue he erected
news Politics Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 19:24

When the people of Goshamahal woke up on Thursday morning, a new resident had established presence at the Jumeraat Bazaar in Hyderabad’s Old City area — a 25-feet tall reinforced fibre statue of Rani Avanti Bai Lodh, a freedom fighter. The gold painted statue was the cynosure of all eyes, with passersby even stopping their vehicles to click a picture, or just simply stare at Rani Avanti Bai Lodh.

"It will bring a lot of shaan (pride) to our street," said Ram, a 21-year-old youth who stopped his two-wheeler to take a look at the statue, but then he wondered out loud, "What happened to the old one that was here until the previous night?"

The older cement statue of Rani Avanti lay broken behind the new illegally placed statue, which was erected by T Raja Singh, the lone BJP MLA in the Telangana Assembly on Wednesday night. The legislator had descended with 200 of his followers, say the Hyderabad police, to erect the statue despite having no permission from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation or the city committee that decides on these matters. The police are yet to take a call on when they would remove the statue.

"Oh! if it was done by Raja Singh then it's ok," says Ram who did not know who the statue was of. "Is it Shivaji?" he first wonders, before deciding it is Rani Lakshmi Bhai. The right answer was of course Rani Avanti of Ramghar in Jharkhand who rallied 4000 soldiers against the British in 1857.

Hardwar Singh, an artisan who runs an NGO in Dhoolpet was waiting to get his bike repaired at the auto repair shop behind the statue. "It is a good move to install the new statue, people will now notice this street and it will gain a name," he hopes, "The statue is not sitting properly, we need to fix it onto the platform or else it will fall over people using the road," he adds.

TNM spoke to a few other residents of the locality, none of them were opposed to the illegal move to place a new statue on the road by the MLA. It neither mattered to them that a scuffle had broken out between the police and Raja Singh and his supporters, nor that the MLA had tried to hit himself with a stone, when officials attempted to stop them.

Alo Read: BJP’s Raja Singh hurt after scuffle with Hyd cops, video shows he hit himself with stone

"So what? he is our MLA," says Hardwar, defending Raja Singh's actions. But a few other residents admit there was no sudden need to replace the old statue that was installed barely four years ago.

The BJP legislator's move to install the statue came barely a day after the Telangana Congress leader Hanumantharao attempted to install a statue of BR Ambedkar at the Panjagutta junction on Tuesday. The Congress leader was taken into preventive custody.

As far as Raja Singh is concerned, the police have registered a case against the legislator under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 145 (joining or continuing in unlawful assembly, knowing it has been commanded to disperse), 152 (assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot) and section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) under the IPC.

The West Zone DCP AR Srinivas, when asked why the MLA is not behind bars replied saying, "He is a sitting MLA, so there are some procedures that need to be followed," said the officer who further added that Singh's crimes were minor in nature and that he had not broken any "major" laws.

Another police officer said, "We are ever ready to arrest him but we need orders from the Telangana Director General of Police (DGP),".

Raja Singh is an RSS man who entered politics through the Telugu Desam Party before joining the BJP. To the police, he is a man with over 48 cases pending against him but is unable to take action against him as he is the sitting and third-time legislator of Goshamahal. The only seat from where the Telangana BJP managed to win in the 2018 assembly elections, making Raja Singh a key leader within the party whether the senior leaders want it or not.

Those who work closely with the communities in Goshamahal say the support one sees for Raja Singh should not be misconstrued as a support for the BJP. Mohammad Habeeb, heritage and social activist from the Old city of Hyderabad is of the view that the vote bank of Goshamahal is divided and not reflective of the BJPs strength in the constituency. "Most of the residents here are upper caste settlers from Rajasthan who settled on the banks of the Musi river during the time of the Nizam. They may have chosen Raja Singh as their legislator but they are not supportive of the BJP brand of communal politics. Their local corporator is from the TRS and the locality polled moderately for the MIM in the recent Lok Sabah elections, the support Telangana BJP enjoys in Goshamahal is just because of Raja Singh," he added.

The streets of Goshamahal are traffic congested and littered with potholes, the roads overflow with sewerage. Unlike the localities in Hyderabad where at least there is some sign of GHMCs developmental activities, Goshamahal is in a perpetual state of neglect. Most of the residents are either associated with trade at Begum Bazaar or are involved in the idol-making business that sees business only during the festival seasons. Officials with the Commercial Tax department say that Goshamahal has low tax collection rates when compared to other parts of the city and opined that it could be the reason behind fewer developmental activities being taken up.

For the residents, however, Raja Singh's antics help shed light on their part of the city that otherwise makes it to the news only for its ganja trade. Many of the residents don't know why they have a statue at the location nor are they aware of the history or the recent political context that brought a 25 feet statue to the street. "When people pass by this locality they should remember that there is an idol-making business here. It will help attract more people here, its good for business," said Hardwar, an artisan.

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