Uttar Pradesh police late Friday night arrested three activists of the lesser-known UP Navnirman Sena for vandalising the statue of former chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati.
While the 'most wanted' Amit Jani, founder president of the organisation, was picked up along with his second-in-command Rajendra Singh Chaudhary 'Ferrari' from their hideout in Delhi, Qasim, a newly-inducted member, was arrested from his residence in Lucknow.
Qasim was described as an MBA student with a private management college in Lucknow while Jani and Chaudhary were stated to be involved in some business in Meerut and Mathura respectively.
All three proclaimed themselves as close associates of the Samajwadi Party.
Jani's Facebook account also describes 'Samajwadi Party' as his 'employer'.
Confirming their arrest, Lucknow Inspector General of Police Ashutosh Pande said, "The two arrested in Delhi were being brought to Lucknow where they would face criminal trial."
Earlier, the Lucknow police had detained three persons, including an event manager, for organising Jani's press conference at the Press Club in Lucknow on Thursday where he openly declared his intent to pull down Mayawati's statue.
He also criticised Mulayam Singh Yadav for not honouring his oft-repeated announcement at the assembly election rallies in February to 'run bull-dozers over Mayawati's statues and memorials'.
The marble statue installed in a corner of the sprawling Rs 1,500 crore Ambedkar memorial cum park in Lucknow's posh Gomati Nagar was vandalised within a hour of the press conference.
Jani, Chaudhary and Qasim were captured on the close-circuit camera installed near the damaged statue.
They were seen attacking the statue with a hammer, which they used to chop its head and hands.
Meanwhile, in a swift midnight operation, the damaged statue was replaced by a replica by an army of officials, detailed by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to carry out the damage control after BSP activists organised state-wide protests.
What came in handy was an identical statue ordered by Mayawati for installation at another park in another part of Lucknow. However, the plan had to be shelved in the wake of a high court stay order, following which the statue was kept in a casket in a government office close to the Ambedkar Park.