Crime
The Thiruvalluvar statue in Thanjavur district was smeared with black paint and cow dung by unknown miscreants.

Even as social media is abuzz with the controversy around Thiruvalluvar’s robes, unidentified persons desecrated a statue of the legendary poet in Thanjavur district. The Thiruvalluvar state was smeared with black paint and cow dung.

The incident allegedly happened at midnight on Monday in Pillayarpatti, around six kilometres from Vallam in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu. A group of miscreants painted the statue’s eyes black and threw cow dung on it and fled. Shocked by this desecration, passersby immediately alerted the Vallam police station from where officials arrived at the spot. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vallam division arranged for the statue to be cleaned and garlanded immediately and ordered probe into the incident. 

Speaking to TNM, Vallam DSP Seetharaman said, “Since the issue happened in the midnight, we are investigating the issue. The statue has been cleaned after the incident.” The CCTV footage of the incident has been obtained by the police and based on a complaint, the police have filed a case under sections 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153a (Doing acts prejudical to maintenance of harmony), 153a(b) (Doing acts prejudical to maintenance of harmony and likely to disturb public tranquility) and 504 (Doing acts prejudical to maintenance of harmony) of the IPC.

For the people of Tamil Nadu, the desecration of the statue of Thiruvalluvar, who has been loved and respected across caste and communal lines for his work Tirukkural, comes as a shock. MK Stalin, the Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu and the President of the DMK condemned the vandalism on his official Twitter page. Slamming the AIADMK, Stalin said that it has become a usual activity in the state to insult anybody who worked for the Tamils like Periyar and Thiruvalluvar. 

“Insulting Periyar statue, painting Thiruvalluvar in saffron - insulting his statue in Pillayarpatti etc. It has become a regular affair to disrespect those who have worked for Tamil. AIADMK government must be ashamed of itself as the police have no control to prevent these kinds of activities,” he tweeted in Tamil.

The vandalism sparked protests across the district with students of Tamil University in Thanjavur sitting on protest in front of the university, demanding that the police nab the miscreants at the earliest.

The incident comes hours after controversy raged on social media about the appearance of Thiruvalluvar. BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit recently tweeted a picture of Thiruvalluvar in orange robes, complete with rudraksh beads on his neck and arms and mark on his forehead. This triggered a controversy among Twitter users. While the BJP and its supporters contended that Thiruvalluvar was a Hindu saint and therefore justified the orange robes, members of the DMK, Dravidar Kazhagam claimed that Thiruvalluvar wore white robes and did not have any visible marks on his body like rudraksha beads or marks on his forehead. They also accused the BJP of attempting to ‘saffronise’ the legendary poet.

In 2018, miscreants vandalised a statue of Periyar EV Ramasamy in Vellore, hours after H Raja, National Secretary of the BJP posted inflammatory comments related to Communist leader Lenin and Periyar on his verified Facebook page. “Who is Lenin? What is his connection to India? What is the connection of communists to India? Lenin's statue was destroyed in Tripura. Today Lenin's statue, tomorrow Tamil Nadu's EVR Ramaswami's statue," he had posted.