The Madras High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the state government that all statues in the state have to be protected, after a statue of Periyar EV Ramaswamy was vandalised in Tirupattur, Vellore. The vandalism was followed by several protests across the state.
"All statues are to be protected," said Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Indira Banerjee, hearing a PIL filed by advocate Surya Prakasam. The court advised the government to ensure that there is no law and order breakdown in the state.
The act of vandalism, which took place late on Tuesday night, was allegedly inspired by a Facebook post by BJP leader H Raja that celebrated the razing of the Lenin statue in Tripura and called for the razing of Periyar statues in Tamil Nadu. Raja has since distanced himself from the Facebook post which reportedly sparked all the violence and has claimed that it was put up by an admin and not him. He expressed his 'heartfelt regret' for the post. However, there is massive anger against him across the state.
There were protests in Chennai, Madurai, Salem and other districts demanding the arrest of H Raja. Students in Madurai demanded the arrest of H Raja. Further, members of several political parties condemned the leader for inciting violence in the state. Crowds gathered in Chennai and Madurai and burnt effigies of the leader.
The protests took a very violent turn when petrol bombs were hurled at the BJP office in Gandhipuram, Coimbatore, and three people from Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam (TPDK) have been arrested in the case. CCTV footage even showed men arriving on bikes and throwing petrol bombs outside the party office. No one was hurt in the attack.
As for the two men who vandalised the periyar statue, police confirmed that they were arrested immediately after the incident.
The men, Muthuraman and Francis, were allegedly inebriated and broke the glasses and nose of the Periyar statue situated in front of a government office in Tirupattur. Muthuraman is a member of the BJP and has been dismissed by the party. The police told TNM that Francis was a member of the CPI. However, earlier police officials told Tamil media that Francis was a member of Naam Tamilar party.
The High Court has directed authorities in the State to maintain law and order, in the light of the recent bout of violence that Tamil Nadu has witnessed.