The incident occurred just weeks after the BJP unfolded banners of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ at the municipality office.

Screengrab of man on top of a set of steps draping a flag around Mahatma Gandhis statueScreenshot of the CCTV visual of draping the flag
news Arrest Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 14:48

Bijesh, a 29-year-old Palakkad resident, has been arrested for draping a flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on a statue of Mahatma Gandhi located in the district municipality compound. An official from the Palakkad Town South Police Station confirmed the arrest to TNM.

CCTV visuals of the incident showed a man wearing a face mask climbing the steps to where the statue is located and draping the BJP flag around it. The man climbed down, waited for a few seconds and walked away. The visuals showed that the man was alone. The man appears to have a mental health problem, say the police.

Watch: Video of man draping the flag

The arrest will be recorded shortly and Bijesh is expected to be released on bail. A case has been registered under section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after the CCTV visuals came out. A complaint was filed by the municipal secretary in charge.

BJP leaders had denied any role in the incident.

It was on Monday that the flag was found draped on the statue, just weeks after a few BJP members put up banners of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ at the municipality office and triggered a controversy.

Protests rose from members of the CPI(M)’s youth wing, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), as well as from members of the Congress and its youth wing. DYFI members went ahead and adorned Gandhi’s statue with a garland.

It was also DYFI members who hoisted the Indian national flag at the municipality in retaliation for BJP members unfolding the Jai Shri Ram banner on the building. The BJP members’ move came after they won a majority in the Palakkad municipality in the local body polls in December. The party won two municipalities in Kerala – Palakkad and Pandalam – out of the total 87.

Also read: BJP’s victory celebrations in Palakkad with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ banner stokes controversy

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