Tamil Nadu: Vandals Smear Periyar's Statue With Saffron Paint

The defilement, suspected to have occurred during the early hours at Sundarapuram in the city, led to tension and anxiety and a posse of policemen was deployed at the spot.

Coimbatore: A life-size statue of social reformer E.V. Ramasamy, also known as ‘Periyar’, was found daubed with saffron colour at Coimbatore on Friday and police are on the lookout for the miscreants behind it.

After the incident came to light, workers of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) held protests demanding action against the perpetrators. Parties, including the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and main opposition DMK which strongly condemned the desecration.

Police said they were probing the matter and assured immediate action.

The defilement, suspected to have occurred during the wee hours at Sundarapuram in the city, led to tension and anxiety and a posse of policemen – including two sporting protective gear against coronavirus – was deployed at the spot.

The colour, on a portion of the statue, around the right arm and waist, was removed by Periyar’s followers with police help.

The workers, who cleaned the statue, demanded the arrest of the culprits and warned that they would intensify their agitation if such incidents recurred, police said. The activists dispersed after police assured them that action would be taken.

Also read: Debate: Periyar’s Followers Are Endowing Him With Attributes He Never Had

Senior AIADMK leader and the state’s fisheries minister D. Jayakumar said such despicable acts can never be accepted, adding that it was a punishable offence.

DMK president M.K. Stalin said Periyar had slogged for “small men” as well, (seen as a reference to those behind sullying the statue by pouring paint) and that was why he was being hailed as periyar (great man).

MDMK chief Vaiko demanded that the government act “responsibly” and take action.

He condemned the “continuous targeting of Periyar’s statues in Tamil Nadu.”

Periyar’s statue had been previously vandalised in 2018, in March and September.

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), an ally of the ruling AIADMK, demanded stern action against the miscreants and described the desecration as an act of cowardice.

The desecration by miscreants comes against the backdrop of the arrest of two men, followers of Periyar’s atheist ideology, for their alleged denigration of ‘Kanda Shasti Kavasam’, a popular Tamil hymn held sacred and recited every day by millions of devotees in Tamil Nadu in praise of Lord Muruga.

The desecrated statue, unveiled in 1995, was one of the three statues of the social reformer in the city.

Communist Party of India’s district secretary, V.S, Sundaram, said defacing the statue of Periyar was not acceptable and urged police to take immediate action and arrest the ‘anti-social elements’.

DMK MLA N. Karthik also condemned the incident and said that this could be an attempt to destroy peace in Tamil Nadu.

(With PTI inputs)