A marble statue of Mayawati in Gomti Nagar area in Lucknow was on Thursday vandalised, triggering tension in UP while three persons have been detained, police said.
The incident led to protests by BSP workers at a number of places in the state, including Jhansi, Ambedkar Nagar, Deoria, Muzaffarnagar and Kanpur.
"Some unidentified youths this noon damaged one of the marble statues of former CM Mayawati using hammers and then fled from the spot," a senior police officer said.
The miscreants broke the head and damaged the arms of the nearly four-feet high statue of the BSP supremo and former UP Chief Minister installed at the Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal, he said.
A little known political outfit Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena claimed responsibility for the incident, saying it was their way of expressing their anger over scams which took place under the Mayawati regime.
"The incident occurred around 1 pm. The manner in which photographers were present at the spot smells of a conspiracy," Director General of Police Ambrish Chandra Sharma told reporters in Lucknow.
He said that three persons, including organisers of the press conference of Sena have been detained and interrogated.
"Three persons, including Alok Srivastava, his son Arpit Srivastava and an executive of a PR agency, Vishal Mishra, have been taken into custody," Sharma said, adding that an FIR has been lodged.
He said that information has been received regarding the organisation and it's office-bearers and they would be arrested soon.
"Sena's state president Amit Jaani hails from Meerut and has seven criminal cases againsthim, including two attempt to murder cases," he said.
The DGP said that an inquiry was also being conducted into intelligence failure.
Even as the BSP alleged that it was the handiwork of SP workers, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav condemned the incident and claimed it was a planned conspiracy to vitiate the harmonious atmosphere of the state.
"The CM has directed that the damaged statue be repaired immediately and stern action be taken against those involved in the incident," an official spokesman said.
A number of pamphlets of Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena were found on the spot and police suspect it to be their handiwork.
"The matter is being investigated...information is being collected about Nav Nirman Sena and who are its office-bearers," IG Lucknow Ashutosh Pandey said.
The IGP said it was an effort to disturb the law and order situation in the city and that stern action would be taken.
"There is a separate force for the security of the memorial. We will talk to its officer regarding where lapses took place," Pandey said.
Earlier in the day Sena office bearers had told the media that they wanted the state government to remove all the statues of Mayawati installed in Lucknow and Noida within 72 hours otherwise they would remove them.
"As Mayawati is involved in a number of scams, including NRHM, firing in Bhatta Parsaul and others, her statues should immediately be removed. Otherwise our workers would do it in the next 72 others", Amit, an officer bearer of the organisation asserted.
The Sena state president, Amit Jaani has claimed responsibility for the incident and alleged that the statues were a blot on the state.
"Such an incident cannot happen without the knowledge of the government," leader of BSPLP Swami Prasad Maurya alleged after visiting the spot.
Stating he would talk with the Governor and CM, Maurya demanded that the statue be restored to its original form.
"We have got message from the party supremo not to take the law into our hands and maintain discipline," he said.
The damaged statue has been covered with a blue cloth.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has also condemned the incident.
"I condemn the incident. Those involved in the act should be dealt with strictly. They will not be spared", Yadav said talking to reporters in Lucknow.