As police tried to catch the protesters and push them inside a police bus, at least one of the students was slapped, kicked and punched even as he fell down.

Periyar statue vandalised Cops students scuffle in Madurai TN erupts in protestScreengrab/News18 Tamil Nadu
news Protest Wednesday, March 07, 2018 - 12:01

Dramatic scenes were witnessed in several parts of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, after a statue of Periyar EV Ramaswamy was vandalised in Tirupattur in Vellore district on Tuesday night by two men. As protests erupted in several districts of the state, condemning the BJP and demanding the arrest of party leader H Raja, in Madurai, there was a scuffle between protesting students and police officials. 

As police tried to catch the protesters and push them inside a police bus, at least one of the students was slapped, kicked and punched even as he fell down on the ground by policemen who were trying to arrest him.

According to television reports, the students were protesting outside the BJP office in Madurai, when they were arrested by the police. The students resisted arrest, which led to a scuffle between the police and them. 

As the students ran helter skelter, several of them were apprehended by the police officers. One of them was being pulled towards the bus by one policeman, when several other officers came to surround him, and pushed him and kicked him to the ground, where his head hit the tyre of the police vehicle. 

This agitated the students, who pushed back against the police. As they were overpowered by the police and loaded into the bus, they shouted slogans for the arrest of H Raja. One of the protesters said, “The police are acting like the agents of the BJP. We were protesting peacefully, but they decided to arrest us.”

The protests were in response to the vandalism of the Periyar statue in Vellore, which followed a post by BJP National Secretary H Raja on his official Facebook post, that celebrated the razing of the Lenin statue in Tripura and called for the razing of Periyar statues in Tamil Nadu. Several other BJP leaders and members in Tamil Nadu, too, expressed similar sentiments. 

Following criticism, H Raja deleted the post and claimed that it was put up by an admin and not by him, and has expressed ‘heartfelt regret’ for the post. 

However, there is massive anger against him across the state, where several people including political leaders have accused him of inciting violence. Over 300 people have been detained across the state. 

The protest by the students in Madurai is one of the many protests being held across Tamil Nadu, all of whom are demanding the arrest of H Raja under the Goondas Act. 

Protests were held in Chennai, Salem, Madurai and other districts. In Chennai’s Anna Salai, members of the Dravidar Kazhagam, CPI and CPI(M) gathered to burn the effigy of H Raja and beat his picture with slippers. They also resisted arrest as the police tried to take them away.

The DMK meanwhile help protests in Saidapet in Chennai, where they raised slogans against the BJP, especially H Raja. 

A PIL was also filed in the Madras High Court by an advocate on the post by H Raja. The petition will reportedly be heard by the court on Wednesday afternoon.

Read: 'Periyar is not a mere mortal, he's an ideology': Actor Sathyaraj slams BJP

The BJP meanwhile has been engaged in damage control. One of the two men who was arrested in Vellore by the police for vandalising Periyar’s statue – Muthuraman – was dropped by the BJP in a statement on Wednesday. 

H Raja meanwhile spoke to the media in Delhi and said, “Regarding the Facebook post about EVR issue, it was a mistake on the part of the admin. As soon as I saw it, I removed it. The admin was removed as well.

“We believe in ideological fight. I don't believe in violence. Though I deleted it, tempers ran high and some violent incidents have happened on both sides. Though it was done by my admin, I have expressed my heartfelt regrets for whatever has happened,” he added.

Read: Periyar statue vandalised in Tamil Nadu, hours after post on BJP leader's FB page

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