On Independence Day, rights activists held a demonstration at the Rajasthan High Court to have the controversial statue of Manu -the mythological lawmaker in Hinduism- removed.
The protest was organised under the Manu Murti Hatao Abhiyan Bharat (Remove Manu Murti National Campaign India).
The statue of Manu holding the Manusmriti in his hand, which has been in the state’s court premises since its installation in 1989, has faced several protests from Dalit and Bahujan activists over the years. There have been many attempts to bring down the Manu statue over the last 30 years.
However, the police did not allow the protesters to go beyond the protest site. A foot march was called from Shaheed Smarak to Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur.
“Justice cannot be expected from the premises where Manu’s idol is installed. The statue of Manu should be replaced by the statue of the architect of the Constitution, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar,” Usha, one of the protesters told Maktoob. She is from Rewa in Madhya Pradesh.
The demonstration was a part of similar symbolic protests held simultaneously in 110 villages across Rajasthan, and in 18 other states.
In July 1989, just six months after the statue was placed, a panel of judges from the Rajasthan High Court ordered its removal. Following this, a PIL was filed against the order, and since then the court order for the removal of the statues has been stayed. In 2018, two Dalit women from Aurangabad, who are members of the Republican Party of India, travelled all the way to Jaipur to climb up the Manu statue and smear it with paint. The two women have an ongoing case against them.
Dalit organizations believe that the matter is not heard in court for many years. The last hearing on this matter was held in 2016 where a scuffle broke out between the lawyers in the courtroom itself.
“During that hearing, the supporters of the Manu statue almost beat up the lawyers who are arguing for its removal,” Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties said. She alleged that the matter has never been in the priority of the court.
“The court never stands for the deprived sections, the whole system is against the marginalized people, the people sitting in the justice system have respect for Manu, That’s why I don’t think the court will ever remove it, they want it to remain here for centuries,” activist and writer Bhanwar Meghvanshi told Maktoob.
Khan Iqbal is a Freelance journalist from Jaipur