Chennai: A statue of the late rationalist thinker E V Ramasamy 'Periyar' was found vandalised in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu Friday.
The incident comes against the backdrop of a renewed debate on Periyar in Tamil Nadu after superstar Rajinikanth last week made critical remarks the Dravidian stalwart.
Political leaders from most parties in Tamil Nadu condemned the damage to the statue and demanded stern action against whoever did it.
The statue at Salavakkam was found damaged on Friday morning, causing a flutter in the locality. The state police warned of "strong action" against anti-social elements who damage statues.
The incident shows once again how quickly Tamil Nadu politics can be brought to the boil by adverse remars aginst icons warmly cherished by this or that section. As a vehement rationalist and critic of Hindu mythology, Periyar provided the basis for the Dravidian movement. Although the movement itself has splintered into several breakaway parties, each of them holds him as an icon who cannot be attacked.
Against that background, superstar Rajinikanth’s remarks on Periyar at an event held by Tamil magazine 'Thuglak' on January 14 amounted to a willful triggering of a controversy.
Rajinikanth alleged: “In 1971, at Salem Periyar took out a rally in which nude images of Lord Sriramachandramoorthy and Sita, with a garland of sandals, (were) paraded...."
His comments drew the ire of pro-Periyar outfits and political parties, including the ruling AIADMK and DMK. But the actor, who is expected to float his political party ahead of the Assembly elections next year, refused to apologise, insisting that what he said was based on facts.
Condemning the statue vandalisation, DMK president M K Stalin said damaging the statue of Periyar who had "strived for Tamils and Tamil Nadu for 95 years was shameful and regrettable."
The state government must take due action, he told reporters here.
Director-general of police L K Tripathy "has warned that the police will take very strong action against anti-social elements who vandalise statues of Thanthai Periyar or statues of other leaders in the state," a police source said....