Kuzhanthai Royappan’s book ‘Madurai Veeran Unmai Varalaru’ was banned in 2015 by the Tamil Nadu government.

 Govt can ban my books but I wont stop writing about Dalits says this defiant TN writer
news Censorship Wednesday, June 07, 2017 - 22:36

Kuzhanthai Royappan, a 61-year-old writer from Trichy district, whose first book was banned by the Tamil Nadu government two years ago on the grounds that it could cause communal disharmony, says that he will continue to write books about Dalits.

Royappan had filed a petition against the government’s ban in 2015. When the case came up for hearing on Tuesday, the Madras High Court directed the state government to respond in six weeks.

According to Royappan, the government had banned his book Madurai Veeran Unmai Varalaru because he described Madurai Veeran, a folk deity as a Dalit, who falls in love with a caste Hindu woman. “This story was told to me by an old storyteller. Other books about Madurai Veeran claim that he was born to a Kasi king but in that era between 1623 and 1653, there were no Kasi kings, Mughals were ruling us,” he explains.

While banning the book, the Tamil Nadu government had then said, “The state government is of the opinion that the book contains assertions that are certain to cause disharmony and feeling of enmity between different castes and communities and promote communal tension affecting public peace and tranquillity,” reported The Hindu.

But the writer emphasises that the ban on his earlier will not stop him from writing about Dalits. “Even if the government keeps banning my books, I will never stop writing about Scheduled Caste people,” says Royappan defiantly.

His passion for the issue, he says, stems from having witnessed Dalits being mistreated since he was a boy. Royappan recounts, “When I used to go to tea shops, the shopkeeper will have different tumblers for both caste Hindus and Dalits. Also, Dalits were supposed to sit down and eat food while other caste people would sit and eat on chairs and tables.”

He recalls another story from his past, which forced him to protest against the caste oppression met out to the Dalit community in his village. “The government had given land to Scheduled Caste people in our village but all the other caste people took it away. I protested against the issue and also went to court,” alleges Royappan.

Forced to discontinue school after Class 1 due to family problems, Royappan started working as a daily wage worker from his early age. “I learnt to read and write Tamil on my own,” he says proudly.

His own life inspired him to write stories about Dalit people. His first book Madurai Veeran Unmai Varalaru was published in 2013. “Many Dalit people have died while trying to bring a change in the society, often their stories are not written. I want to bring out all those stories out through my books,” he explains.

His next book is a novel about Dalit Christians. “In our village, temples never had problems as there was a different temple for Dalits. But in churches, there are different places to pray for Dalits and caste Hindu people inside the church. After these issues cropped up, I have stopped going to church,” says Royappan.

 

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