NOIDA: Tension prevailed in Greater Noida on Tuesday after a plaque having the name of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and fixed below a statue of King Mihir Bhoj, unveiled last week, was smeared with black paint.
The plaque that was smeared also had the names of Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Singh Nagar and Dadri MLA Tejpal Nagar, both from the BJP and the Gurjar community, a video clip, purportedly of the smeared plaque, showed.
Police have lodged an FIR and launched an investigation into the act which was allegedly committed by some members of the Gurjar community, which has been at loggerhead with Rajputs, with both claiming that the ninth-century king belonged to their caste, officials said.
The miscreants, including a Samajwadi Party worker from the Gurjar community, were angry with the MP and the MLA for allegedly not supporting their community.
The chief minister had unveiled the 15-foot-tall statue of the king at the Mihir Bhoj Inter College in the Dadri area of the Gautam Buddh Nagar district on September 22.
A conflict had ensued over the prefix “Gurjar” to the name of King Mihir Bhoj on the plaque with some Rajput community members opposing the move.
Prior to the event also, tension had been brewing in the region due to the conflict between the two dominant communities over the issue.
After unveiling the statue, CM Adityanath had observed that “great icons cannot be confined to one caste, they belong to everyone”.
The smearing of the plaque allegedly took place after Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Singh Nagar visited the statue and paid tributes to King Mihir Bhoj on Tuesday morning.
“Satyamev Jayate,” Nagar, a Gurjar leader, captioned a picture of him standing next to the statue in a Twitter post in the morning.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Greater Noida) Abhishek told PTI in the evening that “the situation was normal” in the region and an FIR has been lodged at the Dadri police station over the matter.
Additional DCP Vishal Pandey said the FIR was lodged under relevant sections on the basis of a complaint given by the secretary of the Gurjar Vidya Sabha.
“The police have taken cognisance of a video circulating on social media and are using it to ascertain the identity of the miscreants involved in the episode,” he said, adding strict action will be taken against the guilty persons.
One of the accused persons, purportedly seen in the visuals, has been identified by the police as Shyam Singh Bhati of the Gurjar community.
He is also a local worker of the Samajwadi Party.
PTI tried to contact him but his phone was switched off.
Reacting to the developments, Samajwadi Party’s local unit, however, claimed that Bhati’s act was not supported by the party.
It also alleged that the BJP was trying to pull off a “political stunt” by stoking this caste controversy ahead of the UP assembly polls.
The BJP’s local unit trashed the allegation and put the blame on the SP.
“The Samajwadi Party leadership has already asked its workers and supporters in the region to stay away from the issue which looks like a political stunt ahead of the assembly elections,” general secretary and spokesperson Raghvendra Dubey of the SP’s Noida unit told PTI.
“The BJP is triggering this caste row to gain political mileage out of it. How else do you explain the abrupt developments when both the communities (Gurjars and Rajputs) have always been peaceful and united followers of Samrat Mihir Bhoj,” Dubey alleged.
BJP’s local spokesperson Tanmay Shankar said, “One of the miscreants seen in the video belongs to the opposition party, which has no issue to rake ahead of the elections. Hence, it was engaging in such tactics.”
He added that the SP had no “real achievements” from the tenure of former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav which is why these “political stunts” are being staged now by the opposition.