The recent death of an African American citizen George Floyd has resulted in an uproar against anything and everything which has any racial semblance. As civilians across the globe take to the streets, in some places protesting without violence too, United Kingdom has a strange public demand to meet.
An online petition is now forcing a ‘Clive of India’ statue to be pulled down from Shrewsbury Square in U.K. Originally established at King Charles Street, Whitehall, London, the Grade II-listed bronze statue of Robert Clive by John Tweed relocated in 1916 after being unveiled in 1912. Considered a symbol of racism and colonialism, many such statues are now being targeted across the United Kingdom, in an emotional outburst where civilians are asking for all such symbols of discrimination to be pulled down.
As history has it, Robert Clive played a key role in establishing Britain’s colonial domination over India, in Shrewsbury, western England. The petition is running on a popular petition site and is addressed to the local Shropshire County Council. This happened hours after a former slave trader Edward Colston’s sculpture was pulled down and dragged into a river in Bristol on the occasion of the mass protests that rocked United Kingdom over the weekend supporting the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter.’
According to the petition, Robert Clive epitomizes colonial oppression against India, Bengal and South East Asian descendents and therefore its presence only glorifies the British colonial mindset and demeans the lives lost of millions in the past.
Local Shrewsbury MP, Conservative Party’s Daniel Kawczynski ndeed has a tough task at hand, owing to the fact that there is a sizable migrant population from India and South East Asia settled into the UK for years. While he is looking for ways to a peaceful discussion on the statue, he has also pledged to conduct a “blow by blow” research on the life of locally-born Clive. However, as representing the British milieu he has also said, “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.”
In Richmond, the United States, a disgruntled crowd has forced the VirginiaGovernor Ralph Northam to pledge that he will remove the Lee statue. Further, city leaders have had to commit that they will also take down the other four Confederate memorials along Richmond’s prestigious Monument Avenue.
In this chicken and egg situation, there is no justification that can fill in for the gory colonial massacre that generations bear the brunt of. Maybe, this is just the right time for angst to surface and mutiny to play its part.