Chennai: Movie director Pa Ranjith on Wednesday moved the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case registered against him for his speech deriding Raja Raja Chola as a king whose rule was a dark time for the oppressed people. The court is likely to take up the petition shortly.
The police at Thiruppanandal near Kumbakonam had on Tuesday registered a case under IPC 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153 (A) (1) (a) (promoting enmity between different groups) following a complaint from Ka Bala, former Thanjavur district secretary of the Hindu Makkal Katchi. He objected to the speech made by Ranjith at that place at a rally held by Neela Pulgal Iyakkam (Blue Panthers Party) on June 5 to commemorate the death anniversary of its founder Umar Farooq.
Elaborating about the true Tamil pride, Ranjith regretted that people failed to address the oppressive decadence of caste divisions and discrimination. In this connection, he spoke of how different sections of Tamil people, including the Paraiyars (a Dalit caste group), laid claim to Raja Raja Chola being theirs. He had no such interest in claiming ownership over the king as his rule was a dark period for his people (Dalits), contrary to popular mythology, said the celebrated director, who is fast emerging as an iconic campaigner for his community’s socio-economic growth.
But with his speech being taken as offensive by some persons and religious groups, particularly on the social media, Ranjith has been now forced to move the court for anticipatory bail since the police have registered FIR. Denying intent to hurt any person or group, he said in his bail petition that he had only spoken “some of the truths about King Raja Raja Chola”, while posing the questions as to how to remove casteism and to create a caste-less society. “I spoke about all these, including the plight of landless people especially those from the delta regions mentioned in Umar Farooq’s Sentamizh Naatu Cherigal”, he said.
He said while the history books referred to the rule of Raja Raja Chola as “a golden age”, several social reformers have indeed maintained that the reign was a dark time for the oppressed, when the Devadasi practice was widespread. Though many have referred to all this dark truths, only his speech had been “misconstrued on social media” whereas he “did not make such comments with an ulterior motive”, Ranjith said, insisting that he had only wanted to create awareness about land rights of the oppressed people and his speech was not aimed at splitting people.
Pa Ranjith in the course of his Thiruppanandal speech (June 5) had called the reign of Raja Raja Chola as a dark age for the oppressed when their lands in the delta region were grabbed and hundreds of their women turned into sex workers stationed at ‘Mangala Vilas’. The devadasi system was in vogue. Around 26 people were sold to work at the Kolar Gold Field, said Ranjith, insisting that caste discrimination had started even then”.
While the familiar history has lauded the rule of Raja Raja Chola across South East Asia during 985-1014 CE, Ranjith’s tirade against him as an author of caste oppression has caused a stir among some sections of people.
BJP national secretary H Raja took to twitter to slam the director and said he was a collaborator in the plan to convert the people in Tamil Nadu to Christianity.
Many on twitter supported Ranjith, one of them lashing out at BJP’s Raja for posting the director’s family picture while hitting at him for his speech.
“The case lodged against Pa. Ranjith helps to uncover the era of violence against Dalits in the Chola period and also the institution of Devadasi system that is routed in patriarchal hegemony”, said one supporter....