A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan has been arrested in connection with vandalism of social reformer and Dravidian movement icon EV Ramasamy’s statue -- popularly known as Periyar, in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu.
The jawan has been identified as Head Constable S Senthil Kumar. The 35-year-old was held from his house in Vidhuti village last night after the CCTV footage obtained from the area showed him damaging the statue while he was in an inebriated state.
According to police, the jawan has been undergoing psychiatric treatment since February.
In a statement, the CRPF said that Kumar was on a 30-day leave at his native place in Tamil Nadu from March 14 and has been suspended in the wake of the incident.
After the opposition DMK raised the issue in the state Assembly, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami informed the House today about the arrest of Kumar in the case.
The statue of EV Ramasamy, also known as 'Periyar', in Viduthi village was found decapitated on March 19.
The CRPF said Kumar was under treatment at a force hospital in Hyderabad since February 12 for "schizophrenia".
"He was on 30 days leave at his native place in Tamil Nadu from March 14," the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) said.
"The individual has been placed under suspension, pending enquiry in the case," it said.
In the assembly, Palaniswami said the jawan was posted in Chhattisgarh and had come to his native village on leave.
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.
The accused 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 it.
With PTI Inputs