The police said that the 42-year-old man was a functionary of the Tamizhaga Hindu Makkal Katchi.

Screenshot of a man trying to wrap periyar statue in erode with a saffron coloured cloth police intervene
news Crime Monday, July 20, 2020 - 19:40

The Erode Town police in Tamil Nadu on Monday detained a 42-year-old man for trying to wrap a saffron-coloured shawl around a statue of social reformer Periyar at the Panneerselvam Park in the heart of the town at around 12.15 pm.

The man has been identified as Prakash, a functionary of Tamizhaga Hindu Makkal Katchi. The incident comes days after a group of unidentified miscreants vandalised the statue of the rationalist leader in Coimbatore district by pouring saffron paint on it.

A case has been filed under Sections 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A video of the incident shows three police officers quickly jumping to stop Prakash from crossing a steel fencing around the statue in Erode. He shouts the slogan “Vetrivel veeravel” (a proclamation used by devotees of Hindu deity Murugan), unmindful of his face mask slipping down.

He waves a piece of saffron-coloured cloth as more police personnel lead him away from the statue and Prakash tries to resist their advances.

Erode Town police told TNM that given recent events, police personnel were posted at the park to avoid such incidents.

“Keeping in mind the Karuppar Kootam controversy and the recent case of vandalism in Coimbatore, we posted police personnel in the park for patrolling near the statue,” Erode Town Inspector Paneerselvan V said.

The Panneerselvam Park near the bazaar area houses statues of both Periyar as well as former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister CN Annadurai. The park was renamed from Wells Park to Panneerselvam Park, in memory of Justice Party leader Rao Bahadur Sir AT Panneerselvam, in the year 1940 by Periyar himself.

The location of this park is significant in the town, given that government offices like the Taluk Office and office of the Superintendent of Police are in the vicinity.

Just three days ago, the Kuniamuthur police in Coimbatore district were on the lookout for unidentified miscreants who had vandalised a Periyar statue. Later, 21-year-old Arun Krishnan, who belongs to the Bharat Sena outfit, reportedly surrendered to the police.

In Tamil Nadu, Periyar statues have been vandalised several times by self-proclaimed pro-Hindu groups and members of right wing political parties.

The latest controversy was sparked following YouTube channel Karuppar Kootam’s video on the Hindu prayer hymn on lord Murugan called Kandha Sashti Kavacham, which the BJP and other parties say, insulted their religious sentiments.