Pa Ranjith had recently stated that Raja Raja Chozhan’s rule was a dark period, and that caste oppression had started during his reign.

Case against director Pa Ranjith for remarks on Raja Raja ChozhanFile Photo
news Controversy Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - 10:38

A case has been filed against director Pa Ranjith for his remarks on Raja Raja Chozhan by the Thiruppanandal police on Tuesday based on a complaint from Ka Bala, former Thanjavur district secretary of the Hindu Makkal Katchi. 

An FIR has been registered under IPC 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153 (A) (1) (a) (promoting enmity between different groups).

On June 5, the director was speaking at an event organised by the Blue Panthers Party (Neela Puligal Iyakkam) to commemorate the death anniversary of Umar Farooq, its founder, at Thiruppanandal near Kumbakonam. 

At the event, Pa Ranjith spoke about Tamil pride and how people kept claiming that all Tamil people were one while failing to address caste divisions and discrimination. In this context, he elaborated on how there was a battle in Tamil Nadu to claim Raja Raja Chozhan as their own by different caste groups, include the Paraiyars (a Dalit caste). However, Ranjith said that he had no interest in claiming ownership over Raja Raja Chozhan because his rule was a dark period for his people (the Dalits), contrary to popular belief. 

 “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 had said.

The Chozha king Raja Raja Chozhan who ruled a portion of South East Asia between 985 and 1014 CE is held in high regard by those celebrating Tamil pride. Often, Raja Raja Chozhan’s deeds have been amplified to boost Tamil pride, and the king has been revered not just in literature but in popular culture as well.

These comments made by director Pa Ranjith have not gone down well with many, and have stirred up a controversy. 

Tweeting Pa Ranjith's family photograph, which includes his minor daughter, the BJP's National Secretary H Raja, claimed that the director's views were to be condemned and that "all of them" were hand in glove with the Joshua project to convert others.

Others claimed that Pa Ranjith was creating disharmony by constantly talking about caste. 

An abusive Twitter hashtag about the director also trended for a while because of the issue. 

Some also tweeted in support of Pa Ranjith.

Director Lenin Barathi who made Merkku Thodarchi Malai countered the criticism against Ranjith by saying that the Kaala director was not talking about caste pride but about caste oppression and social inequalities. 

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