Tamil Folk Singer Arrested for Sedition Over Song Criticising Jayalalithaa

The singer Kovan's song, uploaded on YouTube, demands the closure of government liquor shops in Tamil Nadu.

Chennai: A folk singer has been arrested in Tamil Nadu on charges of sedition for a song in which he criticises Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and has caricatured her. He has been sent to judicial custody till November 6.

The singer Kovan's song, uploaded on YouTube earlier this month, demands the closure of government liquor shops in the state. It has also been shared virally on WhatsApp.

Kovan, 54, who is a member of a performing group called the Makkal Kalai Ilakkiya Kazhagam, was arrested in Trichy, where he lives, this morning and was taken to state capital Chennai.

The song says while schools are shut in Tamil Nadu, liquor shops are being opened everywhere. It also shows caricatures of Ms Jayalalithaa serving liquor.

The Chennai police have alleged that the singer has made derogatory remarks against the Chief Minister.

Ms Jayalalithaa returned as chief minister of Tamil Nadu earlier this year, after a high court quashed corruption charges against her. She had stepped down from the post last year after being convicted in a corruption case.

Human Rights Activist Henry Tiphagne, Director of People's Watch, said, "At best this could be defamatory and how they could impose a sedition charge for this? How can the Chief Minister be so intolerant? It's the duty of rights defenders to criticise the wrong policies of the government."

Liquor shops in the state fetch a whopping Rs 27000 crores as revenue. All opposition parties including the DMK and PMK are promising prohibition if they win elections.

Tamil Nadu will vote next year for a new assembly.