Statue politics shakes up Tamil Nadu, fuels violence

Petrol bombs hurled at Kovai BJP office; 708 detained in Chennai; mob seeks Raja’s arrest; some say it is a bid to divert attention from Cauvery row.

Published: 08th March 2018 02:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2018 07:36 AM   |  A+A-

A member of Revolutionary Students Youth Federation being detained along with her child in the city on Wednesday, during a protest against the razing down of Vladimir Lenin’s statue in Tripura | ASHWIN PRASATH

By Express News Service

CHENNAI/COIMBATORE: On a day when two persons were arrested in Tirupattur for vandalising a Periyar statue following BJP leader H Raja’s Facebook post, the State saw widespread protests and stray incidents of violence on Wednesday.

The damage was already done, though Raja disowned his Facebook post that said the late Dravidian leader Periyar’s statues would be pulled down in Tamil Nadu soon.

“I was travelling in a flight to Delhi when my Facebook admin uploaded the post. Soon after I landed and saw it, I deleted it... If the post had hurt anybody, I express my heartfelt regret,” Raja told reporters in New Delhi.

But this was too late.

READ: Attacks on statues | After Lenin in Tripura, Periyar in Tamil Nadu, Ambedkar bust vandalised in Meerut

The damaging of a Periyar statue at Tirupattur in Vellore district on Tuesday night by a few BJP members fuelled the protests by various political parties across the state.In the wee hours on Wednesday, petrol bombs were hurled in front of the BJP’s office in Coimbatore. Three members of the Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam (TPDK) later surrendered to police in connection with the incident.

In Chennai, a group of men reportedly snapped the holy ‘poonool’ (sacred thread) of eight men who were walking around 7 am near the Raghavendra temple at the junction of Singarachari Street and Nalla Thambi Street at Triplicane. While no police complaint was lodged, eyewitnesses told Express the men who snapped the ‘poonals’ raised slogans hailing Periyar and later four members of the Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam surrendered at the Royapettah police station.In Chennai city alone, 708 people were detained for the protests.

Police personnel guarding the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam office and a Periyar statue at Gandhipuram in Coimbatore on Wednesday | EPS

A senior police officer said that around 2,098 people from 36 political parties, 1,693 men and 405 women staged protests on Wednesday over the issue. Traffic was affected in many of the areas. Similar protests were organised in almost all districts.

While a few like MDMK leader Vaiko and actor Sathyaraj challenged the BJP men to attempt to damage a Periyar statue by announcing in advance the venue and time, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan said the issue was raked by the BJP only to divert attention from its responsibility of forming the Cauvery Management Board.  “Periyar’s stature was so high that we need not be worried about him... We should remain undistracted from the Cauvery issue,” he told reporters at a press meet.

There were many who demanded Raja’s immediate arrest. “We will not be content with Raja’s regret. He should be arrested immediately because he has been indulging in denigrating the great leaders of the Dravidian movement, Tamil language and the people,” said DMK South Chennai district secretary and MLA Ma Subramanian, who led a demonstration at Saidapet.The three allies of the AIADMK - actor S Karunas, U Thaniyarasu and Thameemun Ansari, in a joint statement, condemned Raja for his FB post and demanded that he be arrested under the National Security Act.

Party disapproves of remark

The BJP party leaders have distanced themselves from this issue and from the issue of pulling down the Russian Communist leader Lenin’s statue in Tripura.The party’s state president Tamilisai Soundararajan expelled the two members of the party who were arrested for damaging the Periyar statue. The party’s national leadership too expressed strong disapproval.

BJP national president Amit Shah tweeted expressing his disapproval of Raja’s remark. “I have spoken to the party units in both Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Any person associated with the BJP found to be involved with destroying any statue will face severe action from the party.”

Shah also said the BJP would always remain committed to the ideals of openness and constructive politics through which the party could positively impact the people’s lives as well as build a new India.
Meanwhile, the BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao, who is in charge of Tamil Nadu State, condemned Raja for making such statements. But he did not mention the name of Raja. Muralidhar Rao, in his twitter post, said “The BJP does not subscribe to any kind of provoking or disrespectful statements and actions of vandalism towards leaders like Periyar. We condemn outright those people who are indulging in such actions.”

‘Announce time, venue in advance’
A few like MDMK leader Vaiko and actor Sathyaraj challenged the BJP men to attempt to damage a Periyar statue by announcing in advance the venue and time

None will dare say it again: Stalin
Chennai: Complimenting the activists of various political parties and organisations following the ideals of social reformer and founder of Dravidar Kazhagam Periyar EV Ramasamy for their spirited protests that forced senior BJP leader H Raja to take back his flagrant message posted on Facebook, DMK leader MK Stalin said none would hereafter dare say to remove his idols. “If anyone still having (such) a view, DMK cadre will show them who we are,” Stalin said in a letter to his partymen. He noted that Periyar’s ideals were still serving as weapons to Tamil people who love self-respect but the enemies of the race tremble out of fear when hearing his name itself. 

Statue removal is part of BJP policy: Pon Radhakrishnan
Nagercoil: Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan said that the removal of statues in Tripura and Tamil Nadu was part of party policies. The minister, in a press release issued here on Wednesday, said that the statements released by Modi and Amit Shah regarding the removal of statues would be supported by the cadre. “It’s due to Amit Shah that the party had won elections in over 20 states. Cadre will respect his decision,” he said. In Thoothukudi, VCK and Adi Tamilar Katchi submitted a petition to SP, demanding the arrest of Raja.  

Ensure peace in state, HC tells govt
Chennai: Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose, directed the State government to ensure peace in the State when hearing a PIL filed by an lawyer over the tense situation created by a ‘irresponsible political leader’. 


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