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.
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 atmosphere in the state. By late evening, the state government started the process of replacing the damaged statue with a fresh one.
"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 here.
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 against him, including two attempt to murder cases," he said.
The DGP said that an inquiry was also being conducted into intelligence failure.
Text: IANS Images: PTI