Tamil Nadu cyber crime branch has taken down all videos of the YouTube channel “Karuppar Koottam”. The Youtube channel was recently dragged into controversy for allegedly making offensive remarks on Hindu deity Murugan, and a devotional poem ‘Kanda Sashti Kavacham’, in a video. As of now, four persons associated with the channel – Senthil Vasan, Surendra Natarajan, and two others – have been arrested by the cybercrime branch.
Karuppar Koottam espouses a rationalist attitude and has been doing a series of videos on decoding the meaning of Sanskrit mantras in Tamil. When one of their videos went viral last week, the head of Tamil Nadu BJP Advocates’ Division filed a complaint with the cyber crime police against Surendra Natarajan for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Hindu god in the video. The issue soon gained traction and BJP members across Tamil Nadu protested and demanded legal action against the Karuppar Koottam channel, claiming that it was ‘hurting religious sentiments’.
Following some claims on social media that linked the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to the Youtube channel, the DMK has also distanced itself from the people running Karuppar Koottam. MK Stalin, DMK President, stated that these claims were attempts by some groups to portray DMK as ‘anti-Hindu’. Stalin said that this was being used for political gains, by trying to undermine support for the DMK in the State Assembly elections coming up next year.
RS Bharathi, the DMK Organising Secretary, stated that social media groups who linked DMK to the Youtube channel were trying to “turn Hindus against us and there are one crore Hindus in the DMK”.
Linked to this controversy over Hindu religious sentiments, on July 17, a statue of ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramasamy was defaced in Coimbatore with saffron paint. Arun Krishnan, a member of the right-wing organisation Bharat Sena, surrendered to the police for the act and claimed that he had defiled the statue because Periyar’s followers were ‘responsible for the constant defaming of Hindu Gods’. “This is the trend started by Periyar only”, Arun Krishnan stated. Following this, there was another attempt in Coimbatore to tie a saffron cloth over a statue of Periyar statue on Monday, for which a functionary of the Thamizhaga Hindu Makkal Katchi has been arrested.
This controversy must be seen in the larger context of BJP’s attempts to make inroads in the electoral politics of Kerala and Tamil Nadu where it has been largely unsuccessful by polarizing Hindus on issues like Sabarimala. The right-wing’s growing demands for censorship of any text, movie, or speech which contradicts their ‘Hindu’ narrative in the domains of history, culture, and religion is also a worrying pattern.
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