A book written by an author belonging to the Pallar community, one of the Scheduled Castes in Tamil Nadu, claiming that Pallars are the original settlers of fertile river tracts in Tamil land, and southern Tamil Nadu’s rulers, has been banned by the State government.
Written by K.Senthil Mallar, the 624-page yet to be released book titled Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru (Resurgence of Pandiyar History) is an attempt towards caste identity construction and antiquity that the Pallars were rulers of Tamil land but enslaved by invaders during the 17 century.
The book (a copy of which is with The Hindu) contains photographs of inscriptions, scanned copies of documents, community certificates and other related documents claiming that they are the descendants of Pandyas.
The State government, in its ban order issued by Jatindra Nath Swain, Principal Secretary (Public) to the State government late last month, said that the presentation of the author carried demeaning description and disparaging remarks against certain communities.
Moreover, the order said that the contents of the book had defamatory statements and distorted history about leaders such as Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar and Kamaraj, besides historical figures — Azhagumuthu Kone and Veerapandiya Kattabomman — which were likely to cause disharmony, feeling of enmity, hatred and ill will between different communities.
“The book under section 95 (1) (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Central Act 2 of 1974), including its prints, copies, reprints, translation and such other documents containing extracts, be forfeited to the Government.”
The author of the book, Senthil Mallar, told The Hindu here on Sunday that he was yet to receive a copy of the order. “The book was originally planned to be released in Sattur on April 25, 2013 but we suspended the event following a ban by the Virudhunagar police department stating that it would trigger caste violence. Later, we planned to hold it in Madurai, but this ban [by the State government] was unexpected.”
The author contended that the government was trying to suppress the history of “original inhabitants” of Tamil land.
“The ban is an effort to muzzle the re-construction of history by a caste which has a long history since the Sangam Age. We will face it legally.”
Freedom of expression
Condemning the government move, Tamil writer A. Marx said that caste identity construction based on a glorious past was not a new phenomenon.
Upper and dominant castes had done this before but “when oppressed castes try to do it, this is being resisted tooth and nail.”
A. Jaganathan, a Dalit scholar attached to Madurai Kamaraj University, said that the book was a significant work because it sought to present a orious past for the Pallars and, at the same time, portray one form of caste hierarchy.