HYDERABAD: Police in Andhra Pradesh Saturday arrested three people for the recent desecration of statues of B.R. Ambedkar in East Godavari district as Dalit groups continued protests in parts of the state.
Police brought three arrested youths before media and said they were on the lookout for 10 others involved in the Monday incident at Amlapuram.
Special investigating officer Krishnam Raju said the youths damaged the statues in an inebriated condition. "It is an act committed on the spur of a moment and no political group or any other section is involved in it," he said.
However, Congress MP from coastal Andhra Harsha Kumar expressed his doubts over the arrests and demanded that the real culprits behind the attacks be nabbed.
Police also appealed to Dalit groups to call off their protests and urged them not to do anything which vitiates the peaceful atmosphere of the state.
On a call given by Dalit groups, a shutdown is being observed in Eluru town of West Godavari, Medak and in parts of Adilabad district Saturday.
At least three statues of Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian constitution and a Dalit icon, were desecrated on the outskirts of Amlapuram town Jan 23. Another statue was vandalised at Dowleswaram, a suburb of Rajahmundry town in the same district Thursday, triggering protests by Dalit groups.
A four-member ministerial delegation visited Amlapuram Friday while the government directed all district collectors and superintendents of police across the state to be vigilant and take steps for protection of Ambedkar's statues.
A delegation of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders Saturday visited Amlapuram and Dowleswaram. TDP leader K. Yerran Naidu described desecration as a "devil's act".
Meanwhile, a statue of a slain legislator was found vandalised at Tenali in Guntur district, sparking tension in the area. Police imposed prohibitory orders, banning any gathering of five or more people, and tightened the security in the town.
Police said unidentified people uprooted the statue of Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga and threw it into a nearby drain. The followers of the slain legislator gathered in Tenali, demanding action against the guilty.
The statue of freedom fighter and farmers' leader Acharya N.G. Ranga was also damaged by the miscreants in the same town.
Vangaveeti Ranga's son Vangaveeti Radha in Vijayawada appealed to his followers to be calm and not to resort to violence.
Vijayawada, a city in the coastal district of Krishna, was rocked by violence between two caste groups in 1988. Vangaveeti Ranga and two brothers of rival politician Devineni Nehru were killed in the violence. Ranga's murder had led to large-scale riots in coastal Andhra.