VISAKHAPATNAM: Kicking up a controversy, the administration of Vizianagaram district demolished the pre-independence era Three Lanterns Pillar, a popular landmark in the heart of Vizianagaram town, late on Friday night.
While the district administration said it demolished the structure as part of development work and will reinstate it, the Opposition TDP cried foul saying it is an effort to erase the contributions of the family of former Union minister and party leader P Ashok Gajapathi Raju to the region.
The pillar with three lions on each side was constructed at the junction of three major roads in Vizianagaram by the Pusapati dynasty about 200 years ago. According to locals, lanterns used to be lit up on the three sides of the pillar to give directions to bullocks in the nights in those days.
Though the lanterns were not used as days passed with the advent of street lights, the Three Lanterns Pillar become a landmark in the town.
The demolition of the Three Lanterns Pillar took a political turn with the Opposition TDP taking exception to the decision of the district administration to remove the pre-independence era structure.
Condemning the incident, TDP chief and Opposition leader N Chandrababiui Naidu tweeted on Saturday, "Shocked to see @ysjagan demolish the historic ‘Three Lanterns Pillar’ in the heart of Vizianagaram. This is one of the many deliberate efforts to erase the contributions of Sri @Ashok_Gajapathi ’s family to the region. Petty politics must never take precedence over history!"
Pusapati dynasty heir and former MP from Vizianagaram parliamentary constituency Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the demolition of the historic statue was unethical and hurts the sentiments of the people of Vizianagaram. Ashok Gajapati Raju also appealed to the people of the fort city to raise their voice against the demolition of the structure.
Meanwhile, leaders of the BJP, Left parties and locals staged a demonstration at the junction against the demolition of the structure.