An unveiled bust of Swami Vivekananda, one of India’s most prominent thinkers and spiritual leaders, was found defaced at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus.
Vivekananda’s life and works have been one of the greatest sources of inspiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and millions of people across India for decades. His name is often mentioned in Modi’s speeches.
This latest act of vandalism targeting Vivekananda's statue has sparked controversy on social media, with JNU students facing criticism from all sectors of society for the incident, including from politicians.
Located at the university’s administrative block, the saffron fabric covered statue was found with words like “fascism will die” and “Bhagwa Jalega” (Saffron ideology will burn) scribbled around it.
Painful beyond measure. The soon to be inaugurated statue of Swami Vivekananda vandalised in JNU. Vile. Just vile.— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) November 14, 2019
Where will this end? pic.twitter.com/ZICS2YNAKc
जवाहरलाल नेहरू विश्वविद्यालय(JNU) में केंद्र मोदी सरकार ने जवाहरलाल नेहरू की मूर्ति के सामने उसे दोगुनी स्वामी विवेकानंद जी की मूर्ति बनवाई थी अभी आंदोलन में देखिए उसके साथ क्या किया ..— desiboy #SPF (@ImRkRanjan1) November 14, 2019
अब ज्यादा सच बोलने लग जाऊंगा तो कुछ को लगेगा भड़का रहा है ?#JNUKiSafaaiKab @narendramodi pic.twitter.com/0VvYltnxA7
They said its way of expression through #Art against the oppression by vandalising the to be inaugurated statue of #SwamiVivekananda.— Aytirn नृत्य दुमी 🕉 (@GorkhaCheli) November 14, 2019
But Freedom has a meaning in #AfzalGuru! Lol! https://t.co/rI6wwXSnsU
While it couldn’t be ascertained immediately who defaced the statue, the notorious work seemed directed towards the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre and its affiliated groups, widely described as 'saffron groups' for being pro-Hindu.
Representatives of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) denied their involvement in the incident.
The university administration has said the maximum punishment of rustication would be awarded to whoever was found involved in the incident.
The statue of Vivekananda was soon to be inaugurated at the university.
Swami Vivekananda, an ex-barrister, took the mantle of his Guru, Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa’s teachings and spread the charm and aura of Sanatan Dharma throughout the world.
Earlier, JNU Students Union and JNU Teachers’ association had expressed their opposition to the installation of the statue on the university premises.
“We ask as to what is the source of funds for the construction of the statue? They said, on one hand, the varsity does not have money for library funds and for disbursal of the Merit-cum-Mean Scholarship to students and on the other hand it is busy in constructing statues,” said JNUSU at the time of installation of the statue by the administration.
On Wednesday, several students had barged inside the administration block of JNU to talk to the vice-chancellor. When they could not find him or any other officials in the building, the protesting students painted messages on walls near the vice-chancellor's office.
"You are not our VC. Go back to your Sangh," they wrote on one of the doors to the VC's office. Another message written on the floor outside the office read, "Mamidala, Bye, Bye Forever."
On one of the walls of the administration block, the students wrote, "RIP VC."
The university administration, after facing two weeks of protests, rolled back the hostel fee hike partially for students Below Poverty Line (BPL) not availing any scholarship. Students called the move an "eyewash."