The Lahore police have arrested a man for vandalising the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. A hammer has been seized from his possession.
The police said that the suspect, identified as Rizwan, was arrested hours after he damaged the statue. Lahore CCPO said that legal action will be taken against the suspect.
Historian Ali Usman Qasmi shared a video of the vandalism and claimed that it was done by a member of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.
This is the third time the statue has been vandalised since it was unveiled two years ago. In December 2020, a young man had broken the arm of the Maharaja’s statue, while two men had attacked with it wooden sticks in August 2019.
The sculpture was installed at the Lahore Fort’s historic Mai Jindan Haveli to mark the 180th anniversary of the former ruler’s death on June 28, 2019. The haveli has been named after Ranjit Singh’s youngest queen and holds features a permanent exhibition of artifacts belonging to the Maharaja.
The government had taken eight months to finish the eight-foot-tall statue of the king sitting on his favourite horse named Kahar Bahar, a gift from Dost Muhammad Khan, the founder of the Barakzai dynasty.
The statue was built and installed by the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) in collaboration with the UK-based Sikh Heritage Foundation, which funded the project.
According to Time Now News, the statue was made by artists from Lahore’s National College of Art and Naqsh School of Art under the supervision of Faqir Khana Museum Director Faqir Saifuddin.
Known as Sher-e-Punjab or Lion of Punjab, Singh was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire who ruled over Punjab for close to 40 years. He died in 1839.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the son of a Sikh leader and was dubbed the ‘Lion of the Punjab’ by the British. He was known for leaving behind a lasting legacy of resisting the growing influence of the British in Hindustan.
At 17 years, Ranjit secured Lahore for his followers and soon banded together with the brigand bands of rival Sikhs that helped the expansion of their territories. At 25, Ranjit had only the East India Company as the sole hindrance in his potential domination of northern India in 1805.
Ranjit was known to be a skilled warrior with a splendid court, regarded by the Company as “avaricious and untrustworthy”. He managed to maintain their support, however, with his charming and gentle manner. He built several Sikh temples across Punjab, encouraged trade and agriculture, and reformed the revenue system.
Ranjit Singh passed away in 1838. It is said that his four wives and seven concubines had flung themselves onto the funeral pyre.