A statue of social reformer E.V. Ramasami 'Periyar' was found daubed with saffron hued paint in Coimbatore on Friday and a youth belonging to a fringe pro-Hindu outfit has surrendered in this connection, police said.
Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, meanwhile assured of tough action. "Stringent action will be taken as per law. I have instructed the police to take appropriate action and bring the culprits to book," he told reporters at Erode.
After the incident came to light, workers of DMK, MDMK and VCK protested demanding action, and parties, including the ruling AIADMK and main opposition DMK, strongly condemned the desecration.
Police said a young man in his twenties, Arun Krishnan, who is the Coimbatore south district organiser of Bharat Sena, has surrendered.
CCTV footage was being analysed and a probe was on, they said.
The desecration by miscreants comes against the backdrop of the arrest of two men, who subscribe to atheism, for denigration of 'Kanda Sashti Kavacham,' a popular, Tamil hymn held sacred and recited every day by millions of devotees in Tamil Nadu in praise of Lord Muruga/Skanda.
The two men are connected to a Tamil video channel on a social media platform and it has content allegedly against Hindu beliefs, according to Hindu organisations.
The defilement led to tension and anxiety and a posse of policemen, including two sporting protective gear against coronavirus, was deployed at the spot.
The colour, on a portion of the statue, around the right arm and waist, was removed by Periyar's followers with the help of police.
Senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said such despicable acts can never be accepted, adding it was a punishable offence.
DMK president M.K. Stalin said Periyar had slogged for "small men" as well, (seen as a reference to those behind sullying the statue by pouring paint) and that was why he was being hailed as "Periyar" (great man).
MDMK chief Vaiko demanded that the government act "responsibly" and take action. He condemned the "continuous targeting of Periyar's statues in Tamil Nadu."
The PMK, an ally of the ruling AIADMK, demanded stern action against the miscreants and described the desecration as an act of cowardice.
The desecrated statue, unveiled in 1995, was one of the three statues of the reformer in the city.