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UK protesters demand removal of Robert Clive’s statue

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 09, 2020

Alleged that Clive looted Bengal

Hundreds of people signed a petition that was doing rounds in Britain that demanded the removal of Robert Clive’s statue in Shrewsbury, Western England. The petitioners believe that he played a key role in establishing colonial domination over India.

The petition was filed with Change.Org and addressed to the local Shropshire County Council. The development took place on the heels of Edward Colston, a former slave trader, the statue being pulled down and dragged into a river in Bristol on Sunday. This happened during the anti-racism protest supporting Blacks.

"Robert Clive was one of the early figures of the British imperial domination of India, Bengal and much of South-East Asia," reads the petition, which has already attracted over 1,700 people of its 2,500 target within hours.

"Clive as a symbol of British colonialism is significantly offensive to Indian, Bengali and south-east Asian descent and to attempt to justify it as a celebration of British pride and nationalism is only justifiable if one revels in the persecution and murder of millions of innocent people," the petition read.

“Robert Clive served as the first Governor of Bengal Presidency under the East India Company in the 18th century, earning the title "Clive of India."

The petition stressed on his role in the "looting" of Bengal when the British establish East India Company in the 1800s.

"To have a statue commemorating the man that ruined a nation and held innocent people to his barbaric orders is both offensive and embarrassing. Just because a figure is historical, that doesn't make him good. He is nothing more than a figure of oppression and white supremacy that has, whether consciously or not, been celebrated and commemorated in Shrewsbury town centre for hundreds of years," it noted.

Local Shrewsbury MP, Conservative Party's Daniel Kawczynski, urged the protesters to not vandalize the property and called for a peaceful discussion on the statue. He also promised them that he will conduct a "blow by blow" research on the life of locally-born Clive.

"We are doing a research paper and while I won't comment on his life until after it's written, the British Empire was a tremendous source for good during its time," said Mr Kawczynski, who said he would be using the House of Commons library for the research.

"We honour and celebrate those who helped establish this empire. They are part of our history and should be treated with respect and dignity. I know some people will want to eradicate all traces of the British Empire, but I've seen huge pluses of things it did around the world," he said.

The MP also paid tribute to Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, whose statue was also defaced by the angry protesters. They scribbled underneath his effigy " a racist."

The steps below Mahatma Gandhi's statue nearby were also left marked with the word "racist".

The Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend took place across different parts of the UK. The enraged protesters took to streets to express their unflinching solidarity with similar protests in the US against systemic racism. This came after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was a victim of police brutality.

Published on June 09, 2020

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