Shift statues to ‘leaders’ parks’, orders HC

Identify land for the same, govt. told

The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the State government to identify suitable land to establish “leaders’ parks” in as many locations as required in Tamil Nadu. The court ordered that statues that pose a hindrance to traffic on public roads be shifted to such parks.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam said the exercise of identifying land and statues that need to be relocated should be completed in six months. The cost of maintaining the statues in the parks must be borne by those who had obtained permissions to erect them in public places, he ordered.

If such individuals or organisations refuse to pay maintenance costs, money should be recovered from them by invoking the Tamil Nadu Revenue Recovery Act, 1864.

Further, only authorised statues must be relocated, and others should be dealt in accordance with law, he said.

Petitioner’s case

The orders were passed while disposing of a writ petition filed by advocate M. Veeraraghavan in 2014.

The petitioner had challenged a notice issued by the then Arakkonam tahsildar to remove a statue of B.R. Ambedkar, which had been installed on government land without permission.

In his verdict, the judge disapproved of the practice of belittling national leaders by identifying them with their caste or community. “Under no circumstances, can leaders be identified with their communities. Those leaders would have never thought of such ideas,” the judge said.

The common man

The judge went on to write in the verdict: “Common people are witnessing riots and law and order issues due to statues of leaders. Birth and death anniversaries of the leaders are celebrated in such a manner that it bothers people who wish to lead their lives in a peaceful manner.”

Observing that it was the duty of the government to ensure peace at all times, the judge said unfortunately, parties in power often ended up erecting and maintaining statues of the leaders of their choice and neglect others, much to the chagrin of others.

Stating that the common man gets frustrated due to such activities and violence due to the desecration of statues, the judge said the best way forward was to establish parks to educate people about national leaders and confine the statues to such parks.

The parks might also attract tourists, he said.

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