A CRPF jawan has been arrested for allegedly vandalising a statue of rationalist leader Periyar in Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami said on Wednesday. After the opposition DMK raised the issue in the state Assembly, Palaniswami said the arrested CRPF jawan identified as Senthil Kumar was posted in Chhattisgarh and had come to his native Viduthi village on leave. He was held after examination of the CCTV footage from the area.
Pudukottai district police said Kumar (35) was arrested from his house in Viduthi village last night. The CCTV footage obtained from the area showed him damaging the statue while he was in an inebriated state.
The statue of EV Ramasamy, also known as ‘Periyar’, in Viduthi village in that district was found decapitated on March 19.
The chief minister warned of strict action against those vandalising statues of leaders and described as “condemnable” the recent incidents of desecration of Periyar statues in Vellore and Pudukottai districts.
Referring to the Pudukottai incident, he said senior police officials rushed to the spot to prevent any untoward incident and a case was filed.
Special teams were formed to nab the culprit.
“It came to be known through CCTV footage and witnesses that he (Kumar) was moving around the place in an inebriated state and when police interrogated him, he admitted to damaging the Periyar statue,” the chief minister said.
Kumar had in 2013 opposed the installation of the statue near his house and had threatened to damage it, Palaniswami said quoting the police probe.
Kumar has been since arrested and remanded in custody, he said, adding the statue has been restored.
Referring to the March 6 incident relating to desecration of a Periyar statue in Vellore district, Palaniswami recalled that a BJP functionary and another man had been arrested.
“Both these incidents are condemnable. The government will initiate stringent action against anyone found damaging statues of leaders,” he said.
Earlier, DMK Working President and Leader of Opposition MK Stalin criticised BJP National Secretary H Raja for his recent remarks on Periyar statues in the state in the context of razing down of a statue of Communist icon Vladimir Lenin in Tripura recently.
“Had the government acted against (Raja) then itself, such incidents would not have happened,” he said.
The DMK leader said that he had sought Raja’s arrest.
Raja had courted controversy over a Facebook comment on Periyar statues in Tamil Nadu, which had created a furore in the state.
He later removed the post and blamed his Facebook “admin” for the post.