Chennai: Days after actor-politician Rajinikanth stirred the hornet’s nest with his remarks about rationalist leader EV Ramasamy Periyar, the statue of the social reformer was vandalised near Chengalpattu and in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu.
The vandalism occurred after Rajnikant, on the 50th anniversary event of a Tamil magazine on January 14, had reportedly said that at a rally in 1971 led by late Periyar, idols of Lord Ram and Sita were taken out without any clothes on them and that the deities also featured a garland of sandals.
The remarks soon triggered a political slugfest, with Dravidian outfits demanding that the actor apologise. Rajinikanth, however, said whatever he had said was true and he stood by his statement.
“Whatever I spoke about has become a controversy. I read out from what was printed in Hindu and Outlook. I didn't say anything out of imagination. I'll not apologise for what I said…I have not said anything out of imagination. I'm saying what I have seen and they (Dravidian outfit) are saying what they have seen," he said.
Members of a Dravidian outfit accused him of "uttering a blatant lie" about Periyar, burnt the actor’s effigies and filed a police complaint against him. Wading into the controversy, DMK president MK Stalin had said he had a “piece of advice” for Rajinikanth. “I have an advice for him. When he talks about Periyar, who fought for almost 95 years for the Tamil people, he should think and speak,” Stalin was quoted as saying.
Periyar, who launched the self-respect movement in the state, was a staunch atheist and had founded the Dravidar Kazhagam, the parent organisation of the DMK. This is not the first time Periyar’s statue has been targeted. In April 2019, a life-size statue of Periyar was found vandalised at Aranthangi in Tamil Nadu. The statue located near the government hospital was found with the head dislodged and lying on the ground. In Vellore in March 2018, another Periyar statue was broken after senior leader H Raja said all statues of the social reformer should be vandalised.
Case against Rajinikanth dismissed
The Madras High Court has dismissed a case filed against Rajinikanth over his remark on Periyar.
Dismissing the case, the court asked the petitioner why they were rushing to the high court instead of approaching a magistrate court first. The case was filed by a Dravidian outfit over his remarks.