The Tamil Nadu Police on Thursday arrested Tamil folk singer S Sivadas, popularly known as Kovan, in Tiruchirappalli for singing a popular Rath Yatra song criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party at a recent rally on the Cauvery dispute. The song mocks Modi and criticises the BJP’s divisive politics.
An officer of the Tiruchirappalli Cantonment Police Station told The News Minute that they arrested Kovan on a complaint lodged by the district secretary of the BJP’s youth wing, Gowtham, on Wednesday. “Kovan sang at the Cauvery dispute protest in a manner that brings disrepute to the prime minister’s name and post,” Gowtham alleged.
A member of the Makkal Adhigara Iyakkam, Raju, who was at the March 24 Cauvery protest in Tiruchirappalli, told the news website that thousands had protested “for the rights of our farmers outside the Trichy Head Post Office”, and that the police did not say “exactly why he has been arrested”. “They whisked him away like a terrorist,” he added.
The protest was against the Centre’s delay in constituting the Cauvery Management Board as per the Supreme Court’s February 16 order.
The police arrested Kovan from his house after a brief scuffle with his friends and family.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Ram Rajya Ratha Yatra began in Ayodhya on February 13. Tensions were high when the yatra, which had the support of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, entered Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli on March 23. Opposition parties in the state had opposed the rally, and authorities had imposed prohibitory orders in the district to prevent violence.
An officer told Scroll.in that the police had arrested Kovan under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. They charged him with promoting enmity between different groups, intentionally insulting an individual with intent to provoke breach of peace and circulating a statement that may provoke others to act against the state or harm public peace.
Kovan was charged with sedition and arrested in October 2015, as well, for two songs on liquor shops in Tamil Nadu that had references to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.