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.
மாமன்னர் ராஜராஜ சோழனை இழிவாக பேசியுள்ள ப.ரஞ்சித்தின் செயல் வன்மையாகக் கண்டிக்கத் தக்கது. திக தலைவர் கி.வீரமணியை அடுத்து இன்று இவர். இவர்கள் அனைவருமே ஜோஷ்வா மதமாற்றும் திட்டத்தின் கையாட்கள். இவர்கள் அனைவரின் குறிக்கோள் தமிழகத்தை கால்டுவெல் மண்ணாக்குவதே. pic.twitter.com/EtYLNpj5ii— H Raja (@HRajaBJP) June 9, 2019
Others claimed that Pa Ranjith was creating disharmony by constantly talking about caste.
"மாடு உங்கள் கடவுள்னா, உங்க கடவுளையே நான் சாப்பிடுவேன்" - ரஞ்சித்.— Prashanth Rangaswamy (@itisprashanth) June 10, 2019
நீங்கள் மாட்டு இறைச்சி உண்பது இங்கே யாருக்கும் பிரச்சனை இல்லை @beemji .
ஆனால் நீங்கள் அதை சொல்லும் போது வரும் ஆனவம் - ஒரு சாராரை புன்படுத்தும் விதமாவே இருக்கு.
நீங்க எப்படி மனிதம் போற்ற முடியும் ? .
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.
தோழர் பா.ரஞ்சித்@beemji பேசுவது ஜாதிப் பெருமையல்ல.. ஜாதிய ஒடுக்குமுறைகளையும், சமூகம் சமநிலையில்லாமல் இருப்பதையுமே பேசுகிறார்.. ஜாதிப் பெருமிதம் பேசுவதற்கும் ஜாதிய ஒடுக்குமுறைகளைப் பேசுவதற்குமான வித்தியாசத்தை முதலில் புரிந்துகொள்ளுங்கள்...@itisprashanth https://t.co/bUZICr3Y3I— leninbharathi (@leninbharathi1) June 11, 2019
1)How did you decide that the speeches are criminal?— Shabbir Ahmed (@Ahmedshabbir20) June 10, 2019
2)How did you come to a conclusion that they have an unsound mind?
why don't you ask your party leader H Raja as to why he is putting out family pictures of Director Pa Ranjith over a political comment? https://t.co/vrUIrE7yuC
Truth remains as TRUTH at all times.— K.VIGNESH BSP (@PriyanVignesh24) June 11, 2019
PA. Ranjith is right pic.twitter.com/M0WncJRUUN
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. #WithPaRanjith— Joel (@Joeltm3) June 12, 2019