Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar's statue smeared with cow dung

A statue of the Tamil saint-poet was smeared with cow dung in Thanjavur district. (Photo: Twitter)

Amid a raging controversy over the BJP “saffronising” Thiruvalluvar by sharing a picture of him in a saffron robe, a statue of the famed Tamil saint-poet was found smeared with cow dung in Thanjavur district on Monday. This is the first time that a statue of Thiruvalluvar, most revered among the saint-poets in the Tamil language, was desecrated in Tamil Nadu, though such incidents have been reported on busts of political leaders and Dravidian legend E V R Periyar.

As the news of the statue being desecrated came out on Monday morning, the Tamil Nadu Police constituted four special teams to nab the criminals behind the incident. V Varadharaju, Inspector General of Police (Central Zone) told reporters that the police have ascertained the identity of the miscreants who smeared the statue with cow dung on late Sunday night.

“CCTV footage showed that the miscreants desecrated the statue of Thiruvalluvar after 11 pm on Sunday night. We have formed four special teams to nab the criminals and we are hopeful of bringing them to justice. There is no other angle involved in the incident,” he said. The statue, installed in 2005, is located in Pillayarpatti panchayat near Thanjavur, 345 kms from here.

Opposition Leader led the attack against the AIADMK government on the issue by accusing it of failing to prevent vandalism against the statues of those who worked for Tamil. “It has become a regular affair to disrespect those who have worked for Tamil. AIADMK government must be ashamed as they have not prevented such incidents,” he said.

The incident comes amid a raging controversy over BJP’s alleged attempts to saffronise the saint-poet who is believed to have lived in Mylapore here – a picture of Thiruvalluvar in a saffron robe shared by the BJP led to the acrimonious debate on the social media.

The picture used by the Twitter handle of the state BJP was distinctly different from the one that is generally used by Tamil scholars and Tamil Nadu government – he is usually attired in a white robe. But the picture shared by the BJP showed him wearing a saffron-colour robe and his forehead smeared with vibudhi, the scared ash worn by Hindus.

The picture that is used usually was designed by K R Venugopal Sarma in 1957 and was recognised as the official portrait of Thiruvalluvar – the image also featured in the postal stamp released in 1960 by the Centre. Thirukkural, which contains 1,330 couplets penned by Thiruvalluvar, is highly revered by Tamils offers a remedy or a piece of advice for every issue that the modern world encounters.

Defending its action, the BJP has said the original picture of Thiruvalluvar portrayed him in a saffron robe and it was the DMK Government in the 1970s that replaced it with a white robe.

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