Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Tuesday refused to apologise for allegedly defaming social reformer “Periyar” EV Ramasamy. Rajinikanth, who is facing a police complaint for his comments, said his remarks were based on news reports he had read.
“I will not apologise for the comments on Periyar,” said the 69-year-old actor, according to NDTV. “I spoke based on news reports I read. They speak on the basis of what they saw. This is an incident to be forgotten, not to be denied.”
Rajinikanth defended his statements, and added that whatever he said was true. “Whatever I spoke about has become a controversy,” he said, according to News18. “I read out from what was printed in The Hindu and Outlook. I didn’t say anything out of imagination. I’ll not apologise for what I said…”
During the 50th anniversary of Thuglak – a Tamil weekly news magazine – the actor allegedly said that Periyar had, in 1971, undertaken a rally in Salem in which the images of an unclothed Ram and Sita were displayed. “Ram and Sita’s effigies were paraded without clothes, garlanded with footwear,” Rajinikanth had said at the event held on January 14.
He said the Tamil magazine was the only one to cover this event, adding that the founder Cho Ramaswamy had condemned this. “This brought a bad name to the ruling DMK who did not want the magazine to be circulated,” Rajinikanth said. “The issue was seized by the government but Cho reprinted it and the magazine was sold in black. What was sold for Rs 10, was then sold for Rs 50 and Rs 60.”
Members of a Dravidian outfit on January 17 filed a complaint against Rajinikanth for his remarks about the social reformer. The complaint filed by Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam, a splinter group of the Dravidar Kazhagam, alleged that Rajinikanth spread misinformation about Periyar with the intent to malign his reputation. The complaint was filed under Indian Penal Code sections 153 (a) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).
DVK leader Nehru Das claimed Rajinikanth had levelled these false allegations to enter politics. “Not even a tiny bit of this is true,” he had said. “He is only doing this to enter politics. He is trying to disturb Dravidam and Periyar’s movements.” Das had also threatened to gherao Rajinikanth’s house and boycott his movies if the police failed to initiate action against him.