GUWAHATI, Aug 7 - Miscreants prevented the installation of a statue of Don Bosco at Bharalumukh early this morning, drawing sharp reactions from various quarters.
Miscreants resorted to pelting of stones on the labourers who were trying to install the 8-foot-tall statue. Police said that as a result of it, 6 on-duty security personnel, including two CRPF personnel guarding the area, were injured.
�The incident took place when some miscreants crossed over the boundary wall and started pelting stones at the labourers and the security personnel. As the labourers, who were engaged to install the statue, fled, the statue tumbled,� police said, adding that a case had been registered with the Bharalumukh Police Station.
It needs mention that a section of people has been voicing against installation of the statue of Don Bosco in the area. Protest programmes were also staged in Guwahati in the last few days over the issue.
District administration sources said that it would try to draw consensus on the issue by discussing the matter with different sections of the society.
Meanwhile, the incident has evoked mixed reactions here. While some leading citizens, including the Chief Minister, condemned it as an act of vandalism, several others attributed it to the failure of the government and the district administration to honour the popular sentiment.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has highly condemned the desecration of the statue. In a statement here today, Gogoi said, �We understand the local sentiments, but at the same time we must acknowledge the contributions made by (Don) John Bosco in the field of education and to the society at large,� he said.
Member of the Assam State Commission for Minorities Allen Brooks said that the desecration of the Don Bosco statue has sent a wrong signal to those who revere Don Bosco as a venerable saint. �Protest is a part of democracy. But that should not go to the extent of hurting the religious sentiments of any section of the people by desecrating a statue with which the people of that very section have something to identify themselves with,� Brooks said.
Former president of Asam Sahitya Sabha Prof Birendranath Datta said, �It is unfortunate.�
However, noted scholar Prof Hiren Gohain said, �In my opinion, the State government and the district administration should not have gone against the sentiment of the people. Not only the local citizens, but all the people of Assam would not have approved of the step to place Don Bosco among our hallowed and revered national leaders and the leaders of the Assamese renaissance. It was a hasty and thoughtless decision (to install the statue of Don Bosco at Bharalumukh).
�I don�t support vandalism. But the authorities practically invited this reaction.
�There can be no objection to putting up a statue of Don Bosco in a campus dedicated to him. But, Don Bosco holds no special position in the cultural landscape of Assam,� said Prof Gohain.
Prof Hirendranath Dutta said, �It is not a good development. We ought to have been more generous. Don Bosco was an educationist of international repute. The people of Assam are also beneficiaries of his deeds. We ought to have treated him with proper respect.�
Prof Archana Sarma of Gauhati University blamed the government for this development. �The government should have consulted the people before deciding to install the statue of Don Bosco, a revered educationist as well as a saint, at that place. The place is connected with the sentiment of the people of Assam,� she said.
Save Guwahati Build Guwahati general secretary Satyen Doloi also said that the incident was the result of the failure of the authorities to arrive at a consensus decision. �Of course, desecration of the statue is condemnable,� he said.