The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to provide protection to the statues of all leaders in the state. It also directed the administration to ensure that law and order is maintained, not disrupted.

“Security of school children should be given utmost importance,” the bench said. It made the observations after hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Surya Prakasam after Bharatiya Janata Party leader H Raja’s provocative Facebook post on the statue of social reformer EV Ramaswamy, better known as Periyar.

At the hearing, the Tamil Nadu government told the High Court that the police had arrested four people so far for allegedly defacing Periyar’s bust in Vellore. The government said it had deployed adequate security to prevent any kind of law and order disruption in the state.

On Monday, the statue of communist icon Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov – better known as Lenin – was knocked down in Tripura’s Belonia town. It was brought down by suspected BJP workers celebrating their party’s victory in the Assembly elections.

After this incident, BJP leader H Raja said on Facebook: “Who is Lenin? What is his connection to India? What is the connection of communists to India? Lenin’s statue was destroyed in Tripura. Today Lenin’s statue, tomorrow Tamil Nadu’s EVR Ramaswami’s [Periyar’s] statue.”

After his comments on Periyar drew sharp reactions from leaders across party lines, Raja backtracked and said it was posted on his page without his permission.

Periyar is revered in Tamil Nadu for fighting the caste system, speaking out against the exploitation of Dravidian people and establishing the Dravida Kazhagam, the ideological parent of two major Dravidian parties of the state.

On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu BJP expelled party worker R Muthuraman, who was arrested on Tuesday for damaging Periyar’s bust in Vellore.

On Tuesday night, a statue of BR Ambedkar was vandalised in Meerut. Six people were detained in Kolkata on Wednesday for allegedly damaging the bust of Jana Sangh leader Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Kalighat the previous night.