Over 10,000 people signed an online petition on 8 June 2020 calling for the removal Robert Clive’s statue who played a vital role in establishing Britain's colonial domination over India, in Shrewsbury, western England.
WHO WAS 'ROBERT CLIVE'?
- Robert Clive (29 September 1725 – 22 November 1774) also known as 'Clive of India' served as the first British governor of the Bengal Presidency under the East India Company in the 18th century.
- Through brilliance, bravery, perseverance, aggression, confidence and sound judgment, Clive won multiple battles.
- In his first governorship (1755-60), Clive and his forces defeated the Nawab of Bengal and won the Battle of Plassey which led to the Company controlling the region and expanding in future years.
- In his second governorship (1764–67) he reorganized the British colony.
- In 1760, he was made Baron Clive of Passey and became Shrewsbury's MP, a position he held until his death.
- His efforts made the Company rule over 30 million people who produced an annual revenue of £4 million sterling.
- Tax and agricultural policy changes brought by him are said to have led to the Bengal Famine of 1770, where, in certain areas, up to a third of the population died.
- Clive left India in February 1767. Five years later, in the absence of his steady hand in Bengal, the Company pleaded to the British government to save it from bankruptcy caused by widespread corruption. His enemies in Parliament blamed him responsible for the situation. After a lengthy trial he was absolved; but continuing attacks on his integrity, together with illness and physical exhaustion, led him to commit suicide in London on 22 November 1774.
WHAT CAMPAIGNERS SAY?
- The petition entitled as 'Bring down racist Clive Statue' put up by David Parton on Change.Org is directed to the local Shropshire County Council demanding the removal of 'Clive of India'.
- The petitions came within hours of a former slave trader Edward Colston's statue being toppled down and dragged into a river in Bristol on 7 June 2020, during the "Black Lives Matter" anti-racism protests.
- The petition focuses on his role in the "looting" of Bengal in the early years of the British Empire.
- "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 states.
- "While this statue is not anti-black racism, it goes some way to illustrate how embedded racism is in the UK", it reads.
- One more similar online petition has been set up headed with a call to replace the statue.
RIVAL PETITIONS BEING SIGNED
- A rival petition demanding to keep the monument has also been put up and has already received more than 2200 signatures.
- Shropshire Council has said it will debate the issue of the Robert Clive statue at its next full council meeting.
- The petition was put up by Emma Dolphin, who said: "Removing statues does not change history nor help us learn from it. Shrewsbury and Shropshire have been influenced by the actions of Robert Clive, whether we condone all of his actions or not. Leave the statue where it is and don't erase history. Or is it burning books next?"
- Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski called for a peaceful discussion on the future of the statue and said he would prefer not to comment on Robert Clive's life until he had finished a research paper examining his life "blow by blow".
- The Black Lives Matter protests took place across different parts of the UK in affinity with similar protests around the world against the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was a victim of police brutality.