A day after his dramatic arrest from his house near Trichy city and grant of conditional bail by the magistrate on Friday, folk singer Kovan said he suspected the police had first tried to abduct him or harm him. Speaking to The Sunday Express, Kovan, a 47-year-old folk singer who works for People’s Art and Literary Association (PALA), said the first warning came around Friday noon. “Eight people tried to enter the house seeking my custody. They were in plain clothes and came in a tourist cab. We asked for ID cards. They refused to reveal anything but insisted I go with them. We locked the door from inside. Hearing the noise, neighbours gathered and questioned them. Having no option, they left,” he said. Within an hour, a large contingent of police reached Aravanoor Dalit colony, where Kovan stays. Two of his neighbours told The Sunday Express that more than 30 policemen came in five-six vans. “This time they were in uniform,” said one.
“My wife Vijayalakshmi and son Charvakan (24) were with me. Police forced me outside the house. They had no warrants. They didn’t even tell me why I was being arrested,” Kovan said. As they resisted, some neighbours and Vijayalakshmi, who works with Kovan, and their lawyer son suffered minor injuries. A video of the police action went viral, showing Kovan being forced out of the house and dragged to a police van.
Kovan said his legs were bruised when he was being dragged out. “But I was not physically assaulted in the station. Because their plan was already a failure as a crowd shot videos, media reported it. I suspect they planned to abduct me in plainclothes. They wanted to harm me or put me behind bars under false charges.” V Maruthaiyan, leader of PALA, a 30-year movement for weaker sections of society, for which Kovan is doing a musical events, said Trichy Cantonment station was locked for four hours after Kovan’s arrest to prevent entry to media and public. “But media coverage forced them to produce him before the magistrate who granted him conditional bail,” he said.
“BJP leadership wanted to trouble him as they were unable to prevent his songs going viral. Only later, we were told that he was arrested on a complaint by a BJP youth wing leader for his latest folk song.” The complaint by N Gautam, BJP’s Trichy urban district youth wing president, says Kovan’s song was denigrating to PM Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and the Ramayana, and that it was rendered in a manner to instigate violence in a protest by Makkal Athikaram, a political movement that is part of PALA, in front of the Head Post Office on March 24. The complaint was filed on April 11.
Vijaya Baskar, inspector of Trichy Cantonment police station who handled the arrest of Kovan, said they sent a team in plain clothes to collect information before the arrest. “People protested and alleged that they were not policemen. So we sent the strike force to arrest him,” he said.
Asked about the manner of arrest and whether they suspect any radical links to Kovan, he said Kovan is not a radical. “His movement is a cultural group. We had a complaint that he was talking against Modi. So we sought legal opinion and decided to arrest him,” he said, claiming that Kovan knew the reason for arrest. A senior officer in the DGP’s office said the decision to arrest him was taken at the highest level in Chennai following the complaint.