Rights

Police Book Director Pa Ranjith for Saying Chola King's Rule Oppressed Dalits

The Thirupanandal police registered a case against Ranjith based on a complaint filed by Ka Bala, a former Thanjavur district secretary of the Hindu Makkal Katchi.

New Delhi: Prominent Tamil filmmaker Pa Ranjith was booked by the Thanjavur police on Tuesday for “inciting caste enmity” over his remarks criticising the Chola dynasty king, Raja Raja Cholan.

The Thirupanandal police registered a case against Ranjith based on a complaint filed by Ka Bala, a former Thanjavur district secretary of the Hindu Makkal Katchi. The FIR filed against him has been registered under IPC 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153 (A) (1) (a) (promoting enmity between different groups).

According to a report in the New Indian Express, the director, who is known for movies like Madras, Kabali and Kaala, made the remarks at a public event on June 5 to commemorate the death anniversary of Umar Farooq, who founded the Neela Puligal Iyakkam working for Dalits. He claimed that widespread oppression of Dalits and the Devadasi system were prevalent under the Chola emperor’s reign (985-1014). However, a report in the Hindu claimed that Ranjith made the remarks at a meeting organised by the Blue Panthers Party earlier this month.

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According to the News Minute, Pa Ranjith addressed issues of caste divisions and discrimination in Tamil Nadu and spoke about Raja Raja Cholan’s rule as a dark period in history for Dalits.

King Raja Raja Chola, who ruled from 985 AD to 1014 AD, not only ruled over large swathes of India but also Sri Lanka, Maldives and parts of East Asia.

“Lands from the Thanjavur Delta regions that belonged to us were grabbed during his 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,” he was quoted as saying.

Ranjith is known for being vocal about issues of caste discrimination. Ranjith’s film Kaala starring Rajinikanth was a sociopolitical movie that dealt with issues of social inequalities.