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For a school tale, Kerala writer held for ‘disrespecting’ national anthem

There had been no controversy regarding the novel till Prana’s Facebook post.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
December 19, 2016 1:35:37 am
kamal c chavara, malayalam writer arrested, national anthem, indian national anthem, indian national anthem before films, arrests for national anthem, indian express Prana held after BJP worker’s complaint.

MALAYALAM writer and theatre activist Kamal C Chavara alias Kamalsy Prana was arrested by the Kerala Police on Sunday on charges of insulting the national anthem in a Facebook comment. He has been charged with sedition under Section 124A of the IPC.

Police said Prana was arrested from Kozhikode on the basis of an FIR registered at Karunagappally police station in Kollam district, following a complaint by a worker of the BJP’s Yuva Morcha. The case was registered two days ago.

Inspector M Anil Kumar of Karunagappally police said prima facie there was ground for charging Prana with sedition. “But whether the charges would stay, we can say only after investigation.”

They have sent a team to Kozhikode to question Prana, said the inspector.

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Prana had taken a few sentences from his recent Malayalam novel Smamashanangalude Notepusthakam, and posted them on Facebook. The excerpt talks about a situation at a school where teachers do not allow students to go to the toilet during class. At 4 pm, when class is over, the students recite the national anthem. The novel says that for the children, the national anthem meant they could now go to the toilet.

There had been no controversy regarding the novel till Prana’s Facebook post.

The writer’s arrest comes close on the heels of police booking a dozen delegates of the International Film Festival of Kerala for not standing up while the anthem was being played before film shows.

Slamming the registration of a case against him two days ago, Prana had said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should not become a “Kerala Modi”. “Police are depicting me as a terrorist,” he said.

On Sunday, after his arrest, he repeated that the case against him was “illegal”. “I had mentioned in my novel what schoolchildren do when the national anthem is being sung. Dubbing comments in the novel disrespect to the national anthem, police have slapped the sedition charge against me.”

CPM Politburo member and former minister M A Baby said the arrest and sedition charge look like a kneejerk reaction from police. “I hope the government will look into the issue in detail and make necessary corrections. Police acted in a hasty manner without applying its mind and proper examination of the details,” said Baby.

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