Artistes Condemn Charges Against Pa Ranjith, Defend His Freedom of Expression

"We fear that this trend is not limited to suppressing Pa Ranjith’s freedom of expression, but might extend to the crackdown of freedom of expression at large."

New Delhi: A group of artists, filmmakers and theatre persons have released a statement in support of director Pa Ranjith, who has been accused of “inciting caste enmity” for saying that a Chola dynasty king discriminated against Dalits.

“Lands from the Thanjavur Delta regions that belonged to us were grabbed during his [Raja Raja Chola’s] rule by conspiracy. Caste oppression was started during his rule, 400 women were turned into sex workers to work in ‘Mangala Vilas’ during his rule. The devadasi system was implemented during his rule. Around 26 people were sold to the Kolar Gold Field during his rule. So caste discrimination had begun from back then, it isn’t a new problem,” Pa Ranjith said.

The statement, signed by more than 300 people, argues that the points raised by Pa Ranjith are not new and are an important aspect of understanding caste discrimination in today’s India. In addition, they argue, disagreement with his view does not mean the government should be allowed to file a case against him. “Pa Ranjith has been intimidated for merely expressing his point of view,” they argue.

The full text of the statement and the list of signatories is below.


On June 5th 2019, filmmaker Pa Ranjith participated and spoke in an event to commemorate the death anniversary of T.M. Umar Farooq aka T.M. Mani – founder of the Blue Tigers organisation at Thirupananthal in Thanjavur district. Since the event was taking place in the delta region and because T.M. Umar Farooq had fought for the land and other rights of Dalits in the region, Pa Ranjith spoke in particular about the significance of land rights for Dalits. His speech was critical of the oppressed groups misleading themselves through false claims of monarchical clan. He also criticised the commonly claimed monarchical clan of Raja Raja Chozhan’s rule and held it responsible for usurping the land rights of oppressed groups.

The arguments placed by Pa Ranjith aren’t particularly new. In fact, these arguments are based on the discussions that are ongoing in the intellectual and political arenas. Brought into the discourse by Left historians, this view has been there in the intellectual and political spheres. While there might have been both welcoming and disapproving voices to such
perspectives, the freedom and liberty to place them have always existed.

While we have the liberty to celebrate the art and architectural developments of Raja Raja Chozhan’s period, it is important to extend the same liberty to question, debate and comment on the living conditions of common people during his rule or pay attention to less introspected details like the land rights of oppressed groups.

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Even if it is not easy to accept an intellectually contrarian perspective, it is important to protect the freedom and liberty to express it. Our perspectives can be refined only through debates and discussions and not by stifling them. However, Pa Ranjith has been intimidated for merely expressing his point of view. Several communal and caste outfits have sent out threats. Through social media and wall posters, threats to attack or kill him and prevent the release of his films have been made. Thirupananthal police station has suo motu filed a case against him under two sections without any prima facie evidence. While critical thinking is the primary foundation of any creation, the comments of the judiciary on the case has further saddened us.

We fear that this trend is not limited to suppressing Pa Ranjith’s freedom of expression, but might extend to the crackdown of freedom of expression at large. The communal, caste and ethnic groups always tend to attack the freedom to express. In Ranjith’s case, all these three forces have come together.

At this moment, we extend our complete solidarity to protect Pa Ranjith’s freedom of expression.

  1. A. Jaganathan
  2. A. Kumaresan, journalist
  3. A. Mangai, theatre activist
  4. A. Muthukrishnan
  5. A.C. Vijitharan, writer
  6. A.R. Amudhan
  7. Aadhavan Dheechanya, writer
  8. Abhijeet, writer
  9. Abhishek Parija, film society of Bhubaneshwar
  10. Abilash
  11. Adhiyan Adhirai, filmmaker
  12. Aditi, producer
  13. Ajayan Adalat, film sound technician
  14. Ajith Sudsanth, actor, Trivandrum
  15. Alpesh, cinematographer
  16. Amala Mohan, dance teacher
  17. Amudhan, filmmaker
  18. Amudhan, filmmaker
  19. Angel Philomena Sifwa, lecturer
  20. Anil Tharayath Varghese, Delhi Forum
  21. Anjali Monterio, filmmaker
  22. Anjali Patil, actor
  23. Annie, filmmaker, Canada
  24. Antony Arul Valan, Phd scholar, Sonipat
  25. Anush, cinematographer
  26. Anushka Meenakshi, theatre worker
  27. A.B. Rajasekaran
  28. Aparna, civil engineering student
  29. Apoorva Arthur, actor
  30. Appu Prabhakar, writer
  31. Arasa Murga Pandiyan
  32. Aravindh, auditor
  33. Aravinth, assistant director
  34. Arivu, lyricist
  35. Arthi, research scholar
  36. Arun, filmmaker
  37. Arun V., journalist
  38. Aruna Rathnam, UNICEF
  39. Arvind, filmmaker
  40. Asatha, writer
  41. Asatha, translator
  42. Ashhar Jabbar, social worker
  43. Ashwini Kasi, theatre artist
  44. Aswini, analyst
  45. Aswini Mahalakshmi, colourist
  46. Athiyan Aathirai, writer
  47. Azagi Periyavan, writer
  48. Bala, art director
  49. Bala Kondala, filmmaker
  50. Balaji Thiruvadi, senior software engineer
  51. Barathi Nivethithan
  52. Barathidasan, associate project manager
  53. Barathy M.G., freelance journalist
  54. Berty Ashely, scientist
  55. Bhakiyam Shankar, writer
  56. Bhaskar Sami, director
  57. C. Lakshmanan
  58. Chaketi Raju, PhD scholar, JNU
  59. Charu Nivedha, assistant professor, PSG college
  60. Cynthia Stephen, independent journalist
  61. Damodaran, actor
  62. David Kishore, actor
  63. Deepak, cinematographer
  64. Deepak Venkateshan, writer
  65. Deepan Krishnan, lead product engineer
  66. Deepika, artist
  67. Deepti N., PhD scholar, TISS
  68. Dev Bharathi
  69. Dhamayanthi, writer
  70. Dhinakaran, filmmaker
  71. Dhivya, documentary filmmaker
  72. Dhivya Bharathi
  73. Dhiyanathiru, singer
  74. Dilip, advocate
  75. Dilipan, actor
  76. Dinesh, filmmaker
  77. Dr. Jayaseelan, assistant professor, Centre for Development Studies
  78. Dr. Vivek Ponnusamy, orthopaedic surgeon
  79. Dr. Ezhilan, doctor
  80. Dr. Jilukuri Srinivas, social activist
  81. Evidence Kathir
  82. G. Bramma, filmmaker
  83. Gandham Uday Tirupathi
  84. Gokul, HCU student
  85. Gokul, actor, Kochi
  86. Greeshma Kuthar, journalist
  87. Gundala Jayachandra, Tirupathi
  88. Hari, actor
  89. Hari Krishnan, actor
  90. Mohammed Haseef, journalist
  91. Hemalatha, sales and services
  92. Himesh Kunhiram, freelance photographer
  93. Ibrahim, school teacher, Gulbarga
  94. Indhiran
  95. Isai, poet
  96. Iswar Lalitha, filmmaker
  97. J. Devika, Centre for Development Studies
  98. J. Balasubramanaiyan
  99. J.K. Shini, editor, Mumbai
  100. Jaya Badhuri, journalist
  101. Jaya Kumar, documentary filmmaker
  102. Jayadhurugha, sales coordinator
  103. Jayakumar, banker
  104. Jeffery Stanley, consultant
  105. Jeny Dolly, filmmaker
  106. Jey Moorthi, filmmaker
  107. Jeya Rani, writer
  108. Jigesh Mevani, MLA, Vadgam
  109. Joe, social activist
  110. Jubith Namradath, filmmaker
  111. Jyoti Nisha, filmmaker
  112. K. Jyothi Kiran, reporter, Tirupathi
  113. K.R. Subash, filmmaker
  114. Kalai, actor
  115. Kalaiyarasan, actor
  116. Kalanthai Peer Mohammed
  117. Kalisiwari Srinivasan, actor
  118. Kalpana Karunakaran
  119. Kamal K.M., filmmaker, Kochi
  120. Kamalakannan, filmmaker
  121. Kameshwaran, fine arts student
  122. Kannali Pavan, Tirupathi
  123. Kannan Sundaram, Kaalachuvadu
  124. Kannan, Kaalachuvadu
  125. Karan Gargi, writer
  126. Karikalan
  127. Karthi, writer
  128. Karthikeyan Damodharan
  129. Kavin Malar, writer
  130. Kavitha Muralitharan, journalist
  131. Keerthana Chandragiri, sculptor
  132. Khaja, director, Hyderabad
  133. Kishore Kumar, cinematographer
  134. Koel Sen, filmmaker
  135. Kolathur Mani
  136. K .P. Jayasankar, filmmaker
  137. Krishna Priya, visual artist
  138. K.S. Kiran, filmmaker, Kochi
  139. Kudana Bala, film maker
  140. Kumar Shaw, story teller
  141. Kumeresh, political activist
  142. Kupusamy, civil engineer
  143. Kushal, sound recordist
  144. Lajan Joseph, screenwriter
  145. Lakshmi Saravanakumar
  146. Lavanya Mohan, assistant director
  147. Leena Manimegalai, writer
  148. Lenin Bharathi, director
  149. Lijeesh, actor
  150. Living Smile Vidhya
  151. Logan, singer
  152. M. Mathivannan
  153. Madhan Arivazhagan, media
  154. Madhu Karthik, camera person
  155. Magarajothi, filmmaker
  156. Magilan, assitant director
  157. Magizhnan, filmmaker
  158. Maja Meiners, Centre for Modern Indian Studies
  159. Malathi Mithiri
  160. Manirathnam
  161. Mathivannan, writer
  162. Meenakshi Gopalakrishnan, teacher
  163. Megavannan Puthi Thadam
  164. Mirdhula, theatre artist
  165. Moses Tulasi, filmmaker
  166. Mounan Yathirika, poet
  167. Muthumoorthy, musician
  168. Muthuvel, poet
  169. Muthuvel, writer
  170. N. Periyasami, poet
  171. N.D. Rajkumar, poet
  172. Nachi, FTII students’ association
  173. Nancy, IT consulting
  174. P. Narmadha, journalist
  175. Neelakandan Karupu Pirathi
  176. Niranjan Babu, music composer
  177. Nishant Radhakrishnan, editor
  178. Nivedan Mangalesh, web developer
  179. Nivedita Menon, professor, JNU
  180. Nithyanand Jayaraman, activist
  181. Noel Frank, banker
  182. Pa.Prem, director
  183. Pachonthi, poet
  184. Padmapriya, artist
  185. Pallipatti Mohan
  186. Peer Mohammed, journalist
  187. Piralayan, theatre artist
  188. Ponnuchamy, Bicycle Mediaworks
  189. Ponraj, assistant cinematographer
  190. Pradeep Menon, filmmaker
  191. Pramod Mandate, Phd Student, IIT Bombay
  192. Prashant Ramasamy, filmmaker
  193. Prem PRO
  194. Prem Kumar, advocate
  195. Prema Revathi
  196. Presanna Ramasamy
  197. Priyadharshini Krishnan, entrepreneur
  198. Professor Y.B. Satyanarayana, director, Centre for Dalit Studies, Hyderabad
  199. Pushpendra Singh
  200. R. Vinod Kumar, PhD Scholar
  201. Rachana Rajan, teacher
  202. Radhika Bhupathy, banker
  203. Radhika Vemula, social activist
  204. Raja, director
  205. Raja Vemula, law student
  206. Rajan Kurai, writer
  207. Rajavel, radio jockey
  208. Rajesh Sundaram, senior journalist
  209. Rajeshwar K., BSc Viscom
  210. Rajkumar, assistant director
  211. Ram, actor, Chennai
  212. Ramalingam, art director
  213. Ranjith Shakaran
  214. Rathinavel, theatre artist
  215. Rekha, advocate
  216. Ruban, sound designer
  217. Rubesh Kumar, manager
  218. S. Neelakantan, ex-director, MIDS
  219. S. Tamilselvan
  220. S.V Rajadurai, social activist
  221. Sakya Mohan, clinical psychologist ,USA
  222. Salini, teacher, Kerala
  223. Sampath Kumar, martial artist
  224. Samraj
  225. Samsudheen Hira, writer
  226. Samyuktha P.C., writer
  227. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, filmmaker
  228. Sandhya Ravishankar, journalist
  229. Sanmuga Sundharam
  230. Sanober Keshwaar, Mumbai
  231. Santhosh, HCU student
  232. Santosh
  233. Saranraj, artist
  234. Sarika Ravindran, sub-editor
  235. Satheesh, political activist
  236. Satish Babusenan, filmmaker
  237. Scarlett Diggikar, social activist
  238. Selva, editor
  239. Selva Mayan, assistant director
  240. Senthil Nallappa, theatre
  241. Shabnam Hashmi, social activist
  242. Sham Lal, social activist
  243. Shankar Ram, director
  244. Shilpa Murali, journalist, Trivandrum
  245. Shini, editor
  246. Shirya, writer
  247. Shiva Raj, advocate
  248. Sidharth Vishwanath, assistant director
  249. Sinduja, artist
  250. Srijith Sundaram, director
  251. Stalin Rajagam
  252. Stalin Saravanan, poet
  253. Subash, filmmaker
  254. Subash, social activist
  255. Suganthi, banker
  256. Sugirdharani
  257. Sugita, assistant director
  258. Sugumaran, poet
  259. Suguna Diwakar, writer
  260. Surabi Sharama, filmmaker
  261. Suraj Yengde, Post Doctoral Scholar, Harvard Kennedy School
  262. S.V. Rajadurai
  263. Syed Banu Banker
  264. T.Parameshwari
  265. Tamil Nazaar, political activist
  266. Tamil Prabha, writer
  267. Tenma, musician
  268. Thivakaran, associate professor, FTII, Pune
  269. Thottembeti Harish Tirupathi
  270. Udaya, social activist, Neelam
  271. Umesh, actor
  272. Unni Vijayan, filmmaker
  273. V. Saranraj, artist
  274. V. Geetha
  275. V. Parthiban, advocate
  276. V. Suresh, TNEB, Pollachi
  277. Vasanth, social activist
  278. Vasuki Bhaskar
  279. Veerapandian IAS
  280. Veeresh, filmmaker
  281. Velkannan, poet
  282. Veronica Angel, writer
  283. Vicky Raja, cinematographer
  284. Vidhu Vincent, filmmaker
  285. Vijay Ravikaumar, mathematician
  286. Vijayasankar, Frontline
  287. Vijayraj, IT professional
  288. Vilasini, translator
  289. Vilasini Ramani
  290. Vincent Paul, photographer
  291. Vinod Ravindran, actor
  292. Vinoth, social worker
  293. Vinoth, cinematographer
  294. Vipin, cinematographer
  295. Viraj, cinematographer
  296. Vishnu Varadhan, colourist
  297. Vivek Aniruth, director, Kochi
  298. Yaanadi Prathyush, Tirupathi
  299. Yalan Adithi
  300. Yavanika Sriram
  301. Yazan Adhi, poet
  302. Yoga Anand, filmmaker
  303. Yogesh Kudale, Maharashtra
  304. Zareena Udugula, social activist