Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Tuesday condemned the vandalism of a statue of social reformer EV Ramaswamy – better known as Periyar – in Tamil Nadu. “It is nothing but barbarism and it should not have happened,” he told reporters.

Periyar’s statue in Alangudi town in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukottai district was found damaged on Tuesday morning. Photographs show the statue’s head detached from the body. The police said they have not arrested anyone yet because the area did not have CCTV cameras.

Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had encouraged their cadre to destroy the statues of “those who opposed their ideology”.

“When the RSS & BJP encouraged the tearing down of Lenin statues in Tripura, they signalled their cadres to destroy statues of those who opposed their ideology, like Periyar, the great social reformer who fought for the Dalits,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday. “His statue too was destroyed today in Tamil Nadu.”

On March 5, two days after the results of the Assembly elections were declared in Tripura, the statue of communist icon Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov – better known as Lenin – was knocked down in Belonia town. The statue was brought down by suspected Bharatiya Janata Party workers celebrating their party’s victory in the Assembly elections.

This incidents seemed to have triggered similar attacks across the country – Periyar’s bust was defaced in Vellore in Tamil Nadu; six people were detained in Kolkata for allegedly damaging the bust of Jana Sangh leader Syama Prasad Mookerjee; a statue of BR Ambedkar, who is considered an icon in the Dalit community, was vandalised in Meerut’s Mawana Khurd in Uttar Pradesh.