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Towering statue of India's independence leader unveiled

Towering statue of India's independence leader unveiled

Activists said about a dozen of their leaders had been detained before Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially opened the tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, with an air force jet flyover, helicopters showering flowers on the statue and fireworks in the green, orange and white national colours.

The statue stretches to 182 meters, looking over the Narmada River in the state of Gujarat.

Posters of Mr Modi with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani were torn down or had their faces blackened at the weekend.

Students sit in formation to pay tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of India, ahead of the unveiling of the Statue of Unity portraying Patel. Further, he also sowed the seed for the All India Service which houses the Civil Service comprising Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Forest Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS).

At 182 metres high, it is the tallest statue in the world and was built at an estimated cost of around $420 million. Patel also served as the country's first home minister after British colonial rule ended in 1947.

"BJP and RSS leaders used to attack my government over the construction of Dalit memorials and statues, including of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, in Lucknow and Noida".

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The government said that it took over 70,000 tonnes of cement, 18,500 tonnes of reinforced steel and 6,000 tonnes of structural steel to put the statue together.

Modi, who ordered the statue built on the Narmada river when he was Gujarat chief minister, said previous year there had been efforts to "belittle" or "remove from history" the contributions of Patel, who helped unite India's 562 princely states as the first home, or interior, minister.

He said Patel was a Congress leader and BJP should not be allowed to adopt him.

Built in a remote area of Gujarat, the base of the statue alone is 58 metres tall.

In the largely tribal town of Dediapada, roughly 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the statue, villagers shuttered shops and closed the main market for the day in protest.

The bronze statue is made up of almost 100,000 tons of steel and concrete.