ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Stop Convicting People for Singing Protest Songs

In a bizarre move, the Tamil Nadu police arrested S Kovan, a well-known folk singer on charges of sedition (Section 124-A), for promoting enmity between communities (S 153-A) and criminal inti­midation (S 505/1) of the Indian Penal Code. According to news reports, Kovan was picked up at 2.30 am from his house in Trichy on 30 October 2015 for penning allegedly seditious lyrics in two of his songs, Moodu Tasmac Moodu and Oorukku Oru Sarayam. Kovan was whisked away to Chennai and his lawyer was not allowed to meet him the whole day.

Kovan, an activist of Makkal Kalai Ilakkiya Kazhagam, the cultural wing of the People’s Art and Literary Association, has always been associated with protest music which has dealt with numerous social and political issues, such as the anti-liquor movement, price rise or the prohibitive costs of education. The success of his music is apparent from the fact that both songs, which were originally uploaded on a Tamil website, have enjoyed immense popularity and are said to have gone “viral” over social media. A top ­police official reportedly told the media that Kovan “provoked” people against the state by uploading videos with “highly defama­tory” content against the government, the Chief Minister as well as the opposition leader. In another report, the police have admitted that they were under pressure to take action against the popularity of the anti-government and anti-ruling class lyrics, ahead of the assembly elections.

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