Mild tension prevailed near Hyderabad Central in the city's Panjagutta circle as senior Congress leaders — ex-Rajya Sabha member V Hanumantha Rao along with former Lok Sabha MP G V Harsha Kumar, were detained by police after they attempted to erect a statue of Dr BR Ambedkar, defying the prohibitory orders of civic authorities.
The controversy began earlier on April 14, when a broken statue of Ambedkar was found in a municipality garbage after authorities seized it from the activists who tried to erect it near Panjagutta circle beside the YS Rajashekar Reddy statue.
Since then, Dalit activists and organisations including V Hanumantha Rao have been protesting, demanding the installation of the statue at the same place. A case has also been registered with regard to the incident under Section 427 of the IPC and relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
On Tuesday morning, Hanumantha Rao, Harsha Kumar along with several Dalit activists were detained when they tried to erect the statue which they brought in a lorry. Amidst the tension, Rao along with a few of his allies, tried to bring down the YS Rajashekara Reddy statue before he was forcibly taken away in a police vehicle.
Speaking to TNM, Panjagutta Inspector B Mohan Kumar said that the duo were taken into preventive custody, and no case has been registered so far. "We are contemplating if we should initiate legal proceedings,” the Inspector added.
The leaders were yet to be released from Bollaram police station. Speaking to TNM from where he was detained, Hanumantha Rao said that the officials were not responding when they were approached for permissions as they didn’t want the Ambedkar statue to be erected.
He said, "Earlier they said there is model code of conduct (MCC). After that, I have met the Collector, Joint Collector and Municipal Commissioner seeking permission but there is no response from them, which is why I wanted to erect the statue."
Hanumantha Rao also alleged that the police beat up the lorry driver and took away the vehicle adding, "We don't know the whereabouts of the statue.”