Portraits of Dr BR Ambedkar and legendary tribal hero Birsa Munda were allegedly vandalised by upper caste men in Padkhuri No 2 village of Madhya Pradesh's Sidhi district on the eve of Republic Day 2023.
Suresh Kol, the sarpanch of the village, had received the portraits of Ambedkar and Munda from fellow villagers – and he had kept them beside the flag pole after the unfurling of the flag at the village's Panchayat Bhavan on Thursday, 26 January. According to him, the portraits were allegedly smashed after that.
Kol further alleged that although Padkhuri no.2 village panchayat is reserved for Scheduled Tribes, Brahmins remain influential in the area.
What do we know so far? As per the FIR (a copy of which was accessed by The Quint) registered based on Kol's complaint, two persons – Amresh Dwivedi and Nikku Dwivedi – reached the Panchayat Bhavan of Padkhuri No 2 village in Sidhi district and allegedly smashed the photos of Ambedkar and Birsa Munda.
"After hoisting the flag, the pictures of BR Ambedkar and Birsa Munda were presented to me by the public. I had kept those pictures next to the flag at around 9.30 am. Amresh Dwivedi and Nikku Dwivedi of village Padkhuri no.2 came and broke both the photos, kicked them, and started abusing us."– The FIR based on Kol's complaint
Both Amresh Dwivedi and Nikku Dwivedi were booked under Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship), 294 (punishment for obscene acts or words in public), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as relevant sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
What is the police saying? The police said that they were informed by the village sarpanch that two people from their village came to the Panchayat Bhavan and smashed the two portraits.
Speaking to the media, Jamodi police station incharge Sheshmani Mishra said:
"We took cognisance of the issue and registered a case under Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship), 294 (punishment for obscene acts or words in public), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. We are probing the matter further."