Outraged at the ban of ‘Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaaru’ (Resurgence of Pandiya History) and the subsequent slapping of sedition charges against its author, K. Senthil Mallar of Sattur in Virudhunagar district and his family, intellectuals, writers and human rights activists have rallied to form a ‘Movement for Protection of Freedom of Expression.’
Though it does not subscribe to all the views expressed by the author of the yet-to-be-published book, the forum looks at the ban as a denial of the right of free expression.
The State government, by a notification dated May 30, banned the book as it “contains matters and assertions… which are certain to cause disharmony and feeling of enmity between different castes and communities and promote communal tension affecting public peace and tranquillity.”
A. Marx, president of People’s Union for Human Rights, addressing a press conference here on Friday, said the ban violated the freedom guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The author’s inferences on the origin of Pallars and their status as rulers of south Tamil Nadu should be disputed by the academia and not the government, Prof. Marx said.
He looked at it as State suppression of Dalits’ identity reconstruction.
The ban, followed by the arrest of Mr. Senthil’s father in-law Perumalsamy, was yet another display of the State’s opposition to self-assertion by the Dalits.
In the 1990s, when State Transport Corporations were named after leaders of different castes, clashes broke out in south Tamil Nadu only when Veeran Sundaralingam’s name was given to an STC. Subsequently, all the names were withdrawn.
Terming the action discriminatory, A.V.K. Mallar, coordinator of the movement, said when other caste groups could claim to be past rulers why should the claim of Dalits alone be suppressed. The ban was not a result of research but an attempt to make known that only views acceptable to the government should be in the public domain, said Deivanayagam, Editor, Dravida Samayam.
The surmises made by the author were based on strong historical, literary and archaeological evidence.
He had only attempted to throw light on the dark pages of Tamil history, felt Arugo, Editor, Ezhukathir.
“He has not committed any fault, except being a Dalit,” he said.
Selva, president of Centre for Research in Tamils’ History, said the Madras High Court would be moved soon to get the ban lifted.
Public meetings would be organised all over the State, starting from Chennai, to make people aware of the contents of the book, a few thousand copies of which are already in circulation.