Lucknow: The trend of installing statues of persons with deemed a criminal antecedent threatens to acquire dangerous proportions in Uttar Pradesh.
The installation of the statue of the Bulandshahr riot accused, Sumit Kumar, is a step in this direction.
In 2016, a statue of dreaded dacoit Dadua and his wife was installed in a Hanuman Temple in Narsinghpur Kabraha village, Fatehpur district.
Dadua was shot dead in an encounter with the Special Task Force in 2007. His brother, Bal Kumar, is a former Samajwadi Party (SP) MP while his son, Veer Singh, is also an SP leader. Both were actively involved in the installation of the statue even though the then Akhilesh Yadav government had said that it would not allow it.
Former state Minister Ram Murti Varma had even visited the temple a day before the statue was installed to offer prayers.
A community feast was held in the temple on the occasion that attracted over one lakh people from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Dadua, who unleashed a reign of terror in the Bundelkhand region for almost three decades, was known to have massacred nine persons in Ramu ka Purwa village in 1986 to avenge the murder of his father.
He wielded considerable influence over the Kurmi community and his word was command during elections in the region.
Bal Kumar reasoned that there was no need for any permission since the temple was on a private land and the Supreme Court in 2013, had banned the installation of "statue or construction of any structure at public places".
The same argument was now being used by Sumit Kumar''s father Amarjeet Singh who has installed a statue of his son on his land.
Family members and friends of other gangsters and criminals were also now planning to install similar statues in temples and place them on a pedestal. According to sources, statues of the dreaded don Shri Prakash Shukla and mafia-turned-politician Virendra Pratap Shahi were to be installed in temples in Gorakhpur while another of Nirbhay Gujjar would installed either in Etawah or Jalaun.
The statue of Shri Prakash Shukla, who went on a brief but chilling murder and kidnapping spree in Uttar Pradesh in the late 1990s, is all set to come up in a Parshuram Temple in Gorakhpur where he was born. The Brahmin Chetna Manch Committee has decided to put up Shukla''s statue.
An announcement to this effect had been made by former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Aditya Pandey, also a patron of Brahmin Chetna Manch Committee. But the change of government in the state in 2017, has apparently put the plans on hold. Explaining the need for placing the gangster on a pedestal, he had told reporters that "Shukla fought with mafias of the state for the cause of community and is considered our icon". Shahi, a former MLA who was killed by Shri Prakash Shukla in 1997 in Lucknow, is also set to get his statue installed in Gorakhpur.
"He was a mafia-turned-politician but is known better as the Robin Hood of the East. He helped the poor and never troubled them. It has been nearly two decades since his death but he is still remembered by the people. We are planning to install his statue in a temple here," said a supporter who requested anonymity.
Shahi''s statue of his installed at the Mohaddipur crossing in Gorakhpur.
Nirbhay Gujjar''s bust, on the other hand, is set to be placed in a temple built by him at Jaharpura village in Etawah. Gujjar''s cousin has announced that he would be erecting his statue at the temple built by the dacoit "very soon".
A retired DGP said that this was a very dangerous trend that needed to be nipped in the bud.
"The government should have acted - and it is still not too late - when the Dadua statue was installed. If statues of criminals are installed in temples, we will be encouraging the young generation to eulogize criminals and even emulate them. The government will probably not take action because each criminal represents a vote bank," he said.
A top-ranking police official, meanwhile, said that there was no law that prevented people from installing statues on private properties. "The government will have to bring legislation in this regard before we step in," he added. --IANS