Senthil Mallar, a writer who advances the claim that the Scheduled Caste Pallars were the original rulers of Tamil Nadu, has gone underground after the state government banned his book—Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaar (Resurgence of Pandian History)—and charged him with sedition. Senthil is a Pallar, but prefers not to be described as a Dalit—only as a scholar. He says his book is based on research and that his critics haven’t countered his evidence; their blunt opposition is driven by the need to maintain existing hierarchies. But the book has been dubbed casteist and his Dalit assertion is seen as a simplistic attempt to distort history. The sedition charge is more serious: he can be jailed for anything between three years and life.
Senthil is not the only one who has faced such a curb. Amina Wadood, an American scholar of Islam, was prevented from speaking at the University of Madras. The university authorities received an SMS demanding that the lecture be called off. Faced with the threat of protests by conservative Muslim groups, the university backed off. Wadood was not allowed to speak.