Fact check: Did Periyar insult Ram and Sita in 1971 as claimed by Rajnikanth?

Periyar in audio said there were posters across Tamil Nadu of Periyar holding a slipper and a picture of Rama referring to Cho Ramaswamy’s magazine content

Chennai: Many incidents occurred when actor Rajinikanth paved way for intense debate across India over the controversial 1971 rally by social reformer Periyar EV Ramasamy in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district.

On January 14 during the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the Thuglak magazine held, Rajini mentioned that the Hindu deities, Ram and Sita, were insulted at the 1971 rally with a ‘naked’ photo of them and a garland of slippers were put on it. Actor Rajinikanth held news articles to substantiate his statement about the backlash from the Dravidian outfit.

Rajnikant on Tuesday showed the Outlook article in which he had the text stating that ‘photographs of a Dravidar Kazhagam’s procession in Salem district depicted Hindu gods Rama and Sita in the nude with a garland of slippers around their necks’. It was this article quoted by Rajini, who added that he stands by his comments and that he didn’t say anything without any imagination.

Periyar narrating his side of the ‘anti-superstition’ rally went viral through audio. Periyar has given his account of the incident where he admits that he exposed the ‘obscenity of the Gods’ in audio.

In the audio recording, Periyar said: “One rogue from the other right-wing group threw one of the chappals at our group during our rally, following which one of the men from my group used the same chappal and beat Rama’s pictures.” Periyar added that his people burnt the effigy of Rama.

Periyar in audio said there were posters across Tamil Nadu of Periyar holding a slipper and a picture of Rama referring to Cho Ramaswamy’s magazine content.

The Hindu newspaper quoted the article it had published when it’s then reporter had filed. The correspondent present at that time said that the tableaux contained obscene pictures of the deities and ‘dozens of people kept beating it with chappals’. He also added that Periyar was present at the rear end of the procession and the deities were in front of him. The Hindu article also mentioned that the chief minister M Karunanidhi apologized for the events that unfolded at the Dravidar Kazhagam procession.

In the copy of the Thuglak magazine from 1971 carrying the article has been doing the rounds. The article containing pictures of the deities from the day of the incident which are not clear to establish if Lord Rama’s image was garlanded with slippers.

The article highlights the events that unfolded following the rally. The violent acts were followed by CM Karunanidhi faced harsh criticism for not voicing out his opinions and for not taking any action. Students from Madurai erupted in agitation on these grounds. Eventually, the action was taken under Section 292A. In end article, it was noted that ‘Any person can think anything. You need to read this again and again. You yourself will know what happened.’

S Gurumurthy the Editor of Thuglak, said the ‘relevant parts of the 1971 incident will be reprinted’.

Despite the fervent circulation of the number of versions, the issue will stay alive for a few more days as Dravidian outfits have intensified agitation against the actor for demeaning the picture of Periyar.

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