The Thiruppanandal police in Tanjavur has arrested 32 people reportedly belonging to various Hindu organisations for staging a demonstration demanding the arrest of director Pa Ranjith over his speech where he referred to Raja Raja Chozhan.
T Gurumurthy, state convener of Hindu Makkal Katchi; Karthik Rao, state secretary; Radhakrishnan, secretary of Anmeega Makkal Kartchi; and Veeran Selvarasu, founder of Veerathamizhar Ezhuchi Peravai, were among those who participated in the agitation, reports Deccan Chronicle.
They tried to burn Pa Ranjith in effigy, but police intervened. They also said that permission was not sought for the agitation.
The controversy that began after Pa Ranjith’s speech on June 5 has not settled down. The Thiruppanandal police booked a case against him for “promoting enmity”, in response to a complaint by Bala, a former leader of HMK.
Ranjith applied for an anticipatory bail plea soon after this, and said in the petition that his speech was about the plight of the landless people and several others too have made similar observations before.
“Our history calls Raja Raja Chozhan’s rule as a golden period. Yet several social reformers have pointed out that Raja Raja Chozhan’s reign was a dark time for the oppressed. The devadasi practice was widespread in his rule. I’ve only spoken about the information mentioned in history books. Several others too have spoken about this. Yet my speech alone is being misconstrued on social media. I did not make such comments with an ulterior motive,” he said.
The Madras High Court heard the argument that the speech was based on research from published books and did not intend to create enmity. During the course of the hearing, the judge reportedly asked Ranjith why he spoke about an issue that happened a 1,000 years ago when there were other things to discuss today.
The court, however, directed that Ranjith cannot be arrested till the next hearing on June 19.
A storm of controversy has followed Ranjith’s statement, with politicians and others calling it a conspiracy against Hindus. BJP’s H Raja claimed that it was a conspiracy for conversion to Christianity. Ramdoss’s PMK condemned him, and DMK legislator TRB Rajaa tweeted a video disputing Ranjith’s claims, asking Tamil people to “wake up”.
Many have also come out in support of him. This includes Tamil Nadu Congress party president KS Alagiri who recently said there was nothing wrong in the statement.
The Hindu quoted him as saying, “The society in the Chola period had various layers comprising both the rulers and slaves. There were people at the top of the social ladder and people in the lower rung. There is no evidence to prove that it was an egalitarian society. Women from the lower caste were dedicated to temples and there were slaves among women. I will not hold Raja Raja or Cholas responsible for the situation. I think the intention of Mr. Ranjith was not to denigrate Raja Raja.”