Chennai: A week after making a statement against Periyar E.V. Ramasamy that stirred a controversy, actor Rajinkanth refused to tender an apology, as demanded by the followers of the social reformer, who threatened to besiege his house on Tuesday.
Just as a group of about 100 activists belonging to the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam were preparing to march to the actor’s house in Poes Garden, he called a meeting with mediapersons outside his house.
He said he would not apologise for what he had said against Periyar at the golden jubilee celebrations of Thuglak magazine on January 14 in Chennai. The actor said he had spoken only what he had heard and read, citing a reference to an article in an English magazine.
The article dated November 20, 2017, on the arrest of a cartoonist in Tamil Nadu has a line that reads, “Thuglak, edited by Cho Ramaswamy, came under fire for publishing photographs of a Dravidar Kazhagam’s procession in Salem that had depicted Hindu gods Rama and Sita in the nude with a garland of slippers around their neck.”
Dravidian activists, however, deny that Rama and Sita idols were depicted nude and that they were adorned with a garland of footwear. To prove the point, they released an audio of Periyar’s speech on the Salem episode in 1971.
Periyar organised a ‘superstition eradication conference’ at Salem in 1971, when late M. Karunanidhi was to face his first election for the Assembly as president of the DMK. As part of the conference, a rally was held in which banners and placards with scenes from the Hindu epics that may be interpreted as perpetuating superstitions were carried in the procession.
According to Periyar, a group going by the name ‘Temple Protection Committee’ marched alongside, holding black flags when a piece of footwear landed on the marching Dravidar Kazhagam crowd. It was aimed at Periyar but it fell on one of the followers, who picked it up and started beating one of the images of Lord Rama in the banners.
Dravidar Kazhagam leader K. Veeramani has said that that event made it to the cover of the subsequent issue of Thuglak magazine, which carried a cartoon depicting Periyar beating an image of Rama and Karunandhi standing by his side. Below that cartoon was a caption ‘Is your vote for those who beat Rama with chappals?’
What the followers of Periyar have been objecting to, since January 14 is the wrong narrative of the Salem event of 1971. They claim it was a wrong propaganda that was started soon after the incident.
Since Rajnikanth dug his heels in, earning applause from a host of BJP supporters, a petition was filed in the Madras High Court, seeking a direction to Triplicane Police to take action against the actor for his ‘false’ statement on Periyar followers....