Periyar statue smeared with saffron dye in Tamil Nadu's Tiruchirappalli; AIADMK, DMK condemn vandalism
Locals blocked traffic for some time on the Dindigul highway in protest and dispersed only after police assured them that action would be taken
Tiruchirappalli: A statue of reformist leader EV Ramasamy "Periyar" was found smeared with saffron dye on Sunday by unidentified miscreants, drawing strong responses from political leaders in Tamil Nadu.
A slipper was also found near the statue at Samathuvapuram colony in Inamkulathur early on Sunday morning, police said, adding, a case has been registered for defacing and vandalising the statue.
Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam condemned the vandalism and assured that stringent legal action would be taken against those involved.
Political leaders, including DMK chief MK Stalin slammed the incident, the second such one in the state in recent months, after a statue of the rational leader was found daubed in saffron paint in Coimbatore.
Locals blocked traffic for some time on the Dindigul highway, protesting against the vandalism and dispersed after police assured them that action would be taken. Panneerselvam lashed out at the incident, and hailed the leader's struggle for ensuring social justice.
"Stringent legal action will be taken against those anti-social elements involved in the incident," he said in a tweet.
Stalin slammed the defacing of the statue of the Dravidian stalwart and said people will "boycott" such persons. Periyar was not the leader of just a movement — Dravidar Kazhagam — but that of Tamils, he said.
"When are they going to realise that people will further boycott them if they repeatedly do the same mistake," he said in a Facebook post without naming anyone.
There have been repeated instances of Periyar statues being vandalised or desecrated in the recent past in the state.
"Periyar is not the leader of just a movement. He is the leader of the Tamil race. Those who do such things thinking they are insulting him are insulting themselves," he said and strongly condemned the incident.
PMK leader S Ramadoss hit out at the defacing of the statue and demanded "strong action" against those involved.
MDMK founder and Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko, AMMK leader and Independent MLA TTV Dhinakaran and VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan, MP, also criticised the latest episode of targeting Periyar's statue and demanded that such elements be dealt with strictly.
Meanwhile, DMK leader and party's Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi used the incident to take a dig at the BJP's state unit, referring to its chief L Murugan's recent statement that the saffron party had no hesitation to extend greetings on Periyar's birth anniversary on 17 September.
She asked if this was the "respect they show" to the leader, remarks which drew strong response from Murugan, who said there were "political intentions" behind her words, saying a police enquiry was on into the incident.
Murugan had earlier hailed the contributions of Periyar to social justice and said he had no hesitation in extending BJP's greetings on the occasion of the late leader's 142nd birth anniversary recently.
"We extend our greetings to everyone. There is no second opinion that Periyar slogged for social justice. We have no hesitation in extending our greetings to him," he had said in response to a question on his party accusing the DMK of not greeting the people on "Ganesh Chaturthi" and why he has not extended his "greetings" on the late leader's anniversary.
On Sunday, recalling Murugan's statement, Kanimozhi asked in a tweet "is this the respect they show to Periyar?," while referring to today's defacement.
"Is Periyar your answer to NEET, New Education Policy and farmers' protest?," she asked.
Hitting out at Kanimozhi, Murugan said while police were probing the incident, her remarks had "political intentions." "This is condemnable," he said in a statement. He further wondered if the defacement incident was "planned" since she has made such remarks even as the matter was under enquiry.
Describing the vandalism as "indecent", he said whoever was behind it should be taken to task. "Saffron is holy. It denotes an all encompassing sacrifice. It is not fair to relate it with a wrong thought," he added.
EV Ramasamy, fondly addressed by supporters and followers in the reverential term 'Periyar', led a popular self-respect movement in the state based on rationalist principles and is the founder of DMK's parent organisation, Dravidar Kazhagam.
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