Periyar statues desecrated on 140th birth anniversary

Sandals along with brick atop the bronze statue of Periyar E V Ramasamy in Dharapuram in Tiruppur district on Monday. DH Photo

For the first time the birth anniversary of social reformer Periyar E V Ramasamy was marred by incidents where his statue was desecrated and a pair of shoes thrown at another bust.

The statue of Periyar, the founder of Dravidar Kazhagam that professed rationalism and denouncing of god, in Dharapuram, Tiruppur district, was damaged by miscreants who also placed a pair of sandals along with a brick atop the bust.

The incident came to light on Monday when a passer-by found the statue vandalised and reported to the police, who have launched a man hunt to nab the miscreants.

The police promptly provided security to other statues of the rationalist leader, who had his roots in modern Karnataka, in Tiruppur and Coimbatore districts.

Members of Dravidar Kazhagam and other outfits who came to garland Periyar’s statue on his 140th birth anniversary were shocked to find sandals atop the bust.

Meanwhile, D Jagadeesana, a lawyer who claims to be a BJP cadre, was arrested for hurling shoes at Periyar's statue in Anna Salai, Chennai.

The BJP quickly washed its hands off the incident and asked other parties not to the blame the saffron party.

Police recovered Jagadeesan's visiting cards, which had the images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s election symbol, the lotus.

“We don’t profess violence. The BJP stands against violence and incidents of attacking statues of Periyar though we are against the ideology mooted by him. To put all the blame of attacks on Periyar statues on the BJP is simply unacceptable,” Tamilisai Soundararajan, BJP’s state chief, said.

The six-feet bronze statue of Periyar, installed by the Dravidar Kazhagam, was inaugurated in 2008 by DMK President M K Stalin.

A senior police officer told DH that they suspect the role of members of the right-wing groups for the Tiruppur incident since there were inputs that some fringe outfits might try to create trouble on Periyar’s birth anniversary.

The first attack on Periyar’s statue was reported from Tirupattur in Vellore district in March this year on the day BJP leader H Raja warned that statues of the social reformer would be the next to be pulled after that of Lenin’s was razed down in Tripura.

Later that month, a CRPF jawan was arrested for vandalising another statue in Pudukkottai district.

The incidents also created political storm with Opposition Leader M K Stalin and other Dravidian outfits seeking strict action against those who vandalised Periyar's statues.

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Periyar statues desecrated on 140th birth anniversary

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