The folk singer, Kovan, was booked under Section 124 A (sedition), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot and 505 part (1) (b) (c) for publishing and circulating rumours with intent to cause fear or alarm among the public and induce them to commit offence against the State or a class or community, according to Chennai Central Crime Branch sources.
Uploaded on ‘Vinavu’
“The songs composed and sung by Kovan have been uploaded in the website ‘Vinavu’. Most of them are anti-establishment in nature. The song shows a street play in which a woman dressed similar to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa pouring liquor into a person’s glass,” said a police officer in Chennai.
Police sources claim that while one has the right to criticise drinking or child marriage, those doing so should not cross the limits.
“One of our cyber crime officers noticed the video on the website and we arrested Kovan from Trichy. There was some resistance, but we managed to arrest him,” said an officer.
PALA members expressed shock and anger over the arrest.
A.Saravanan, a PALA spokesperson, said the arrest amounted to stifling their voice and freedom of expression. “The government is trying to project the organisation in bad light for the campaign against TASMAC shops,” he alleged.
Kovan’s son Charuvahan said the arrest of his father was a “threat” not only to the PALA but the entire people of the State.
Mr. Charuvahan, an advocate, told ‘ The Hindu ’ that such actions would not deter the organisation from continuing their campaign demanding closure of TASMAC outlets.
PALA would take it up with the people and mobilise them against liquor sale.
‘Stifling democratic voice’
Meanwhile, DMK president in a statement wondered if the arrest of the singer was an attempt at stifling the voice of democracy.
Makkal Adhikaram, an organisation fighting for closure of liquor shops, also condemned the arrest.
In the past 15 years, several persons including prominent leaders have been booked for sedition in Tamil Nadu. Many of these cases have been political in nature and have not attained finality. Here are some of the cases of sedition filed by the State:
October 30, 2015: Kovan, a singer and member of the extreme left group Makkal Kalai, booked on charges of sedition for penning songs demanding closure of the State-run TASMAC liquor outlets. The lyrics were deemed to be critical of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
May 2015: Naam Thamizhar Iyakkam leader and film director Seeman accused of attempting to excite disaffection towards the Government for delivering a ‘hate’ speech in Tiruchi. Earlier in 2007, the police had booked him and film director Ameer on similar charges in Ramanathapuram.
June 2013: Sattur Town Police file sedition charge against K Senthil Kumar author of Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru (Resurgence of Pandiyar History) alleging that the book contained texts that could create disharmony. The book is also banned and the police also arrest Senthil’s father-in-law on similar charges.
June 2013: An activist Manuel Amalraj slapped with sedition charge for campaigning among tribal people against the Government’s move to grant Sathyamangalam the status of a tiger reserve.
September 2012: Tirunelveli police invoke Section 124-A f the IPC against many People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy activists including its founder S P Udayakumar, M Pushparayan and Fr. Jesuraj. Ironically four of the accused were juveniles aged 15 and 16 years and they were booked for protesting against the commissioning of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
March 2012: A youth leader of Tamilaga Ilaignar Ezhuchi Pasarai, Sathish Kumar, was arrested on charges of sedition. The Tirunelveli police claimed that he had trained Maoist cadres in Uthangarai in the then composite Dharmapuri district in 2002.
March 2012: Kudankulam police book 11 anti-nuclear activists for sedition and waging war against the State. The arrested included two member of the anti-KKNPP struggle committee S Sivasubramanian and K Rajalingam.
March 2009: Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam leader Kolathur Mani arrested under National Security Act for allegedly justifying former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination at a public meeting.
October 2008: MDMK leader Vaiko arrested for sedition by Chennai police for making a pro-LTTE speech at a meeting on the topic ‘Eezhathil Nadapathenna’ (What is happening in Eelam). Another MDMK leader M Kannappan, who was present at the meeting, was also arrested.
April 2002: A clearing agent J. Shahul Hameed arrested following the seizure of books glorying the LTTE in Chennai.
April 2002: Four activists of the Tamizhar Viduthalai Iyakkam arrested following a raid at their office in Ariyalur.