Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, on Thursday, refused to quash the detention of Hindu Makkal Katchi leader R. Raghavan under the National Security Act (NSA) for allegedly defacing Periyar statue near Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam in Tiruchi on December 7 last.

Dismissing a habeas corpus petition filed by his wife, a Division Bench comprising Justice M. Chockalingam and Justice G. Rajasuria said that the damaging of the statue had led to large-scale violence between theist and atheist groups across the State.

"The court has to necessarily point out that in a democratic society, every citizen has got his own belief and is free to practise different ideologies... But it (defacing of statue) had created a sense of panic and terror and also a feeling of insecurity among people throughout the State," the Judges said.

Pointing out that the authorities concerned were expected to exercise powers conferred on them if the public order and tranquillity were affected or likely to be affected, the Judges said the Tiruchi Police Commissioner had rightly invoked the NSA against the culprit since public peace was under peril pursuant to the incident.

According to the Commissioner, the accused was aggrieved against installing the statue of E.V. Ramasamy (founder of Dravidar Kazhagam) opposite the `Rajagopuram' of the temple.