A video of the rapper named EPR Iyer is making rounds on social media where he has raised the issue of Hindu tailor Kanhaiya Lal’s death and the death threats (sar tan se Juda) over the alleged blasphemy of Prophet Mohammad. The video is being shared widely by netizens with praises for the rapper.
Calling a spade a spade.— Akshit Singh 🇮🇳 (@IndianSinghh) September 13, 2022
This is not just rap, This is the voice of Hindus. pic.twitter.com/KiCOEARQC5
EPR performed the rap during MTV India’s Hustle 2.0, a rap battle program. Titled ‘Religious Extremism,’ EPR talked about Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor by profession who was killed by people who entered his store on the pretext of getting clothes stitched. He mentioned the names Riyaz and Gaus Mohammed, the killers of Kanhaiya Lal, who have connections with Al Sufa, a terrorist group.
He also mentioned that Police did not follow up on the threats received by him properly; otherwise, Kanhaiya Lal’s death could have been prevented. Furthermore, the rap talked about how the ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ (beheading) threat was given to Kanhaiya Lal, and his killers stabbed him 26 times.
The video that is being shared on social media networks contains only the part where Kanhaiya Lal was discussed. Notably, EPR Iyer has a long history of performing rap songs that are either borderline or aggressively against nationalists, BJP, RSS, right-wing Hindus, and Prime Minister Modi. Even the recent rap, whose part is being widely shared on social media, balanced the act of discussing Kanhaiya Lal with “religious extremism” from other religions.
From the allegation that a Dalit man was killed for carrying a moustache to or the murder of a Dalit man allegedly for eating with the upper caste or interfaith marriage, he mentioned almost everything. He mentioned that violence has happened against all communities, including Sikhs, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Tribals, and Buddhists, and questioned if it is ever going to stop.
There are some interesting aspects about a few claims made in the rap. It is obvious that it was impossible for EPR to mention particular cases that he had mentioned, but the case where he claimed a Dalit man was killed for carrying a moustache is most likely the case of murder of one Jitendrapal Meghwal from village Barwa, Rajasthan. There were rumours on social media following his murder that he was killed for his stylish moustache. However, Rajasthan Police categorically denied the claims and said he was killed because of personal animosity.
Another case that he mentioned where a Dalit man was allegedly killed for eating with upper caste men could be of one Ramesh Ram from Champawat, who was found dead in December 2021 after he attended a marriage. Though his family claimed he was murdered for eating in front of upper-caste men, the Police had said the reasons were unclear and could be revealed only after investigation. No further information on the case is available.
As EPR said, someone was killed by the family members of a girl for interfaith marriage, he could have been referring to the murder of Hindu man Nagaraju who was stabbed to death by his wife Sultana’s brothers. EPR conveniently decided not to mention the religion of the deceased and those who killed him.
Considering this, several netizens warned fellow Twitter users to be cautious before making anyone a hero for speaking up for Kanhaiya Lal.
Please listen full song and lyrics then say something…👇👇👇🤣— Lord KashMora 2.0 (@Lordkashmora) September 14, 2022
He is a Leftist, he raised slogans through his song against CAA , NRC, Farmers law…https://t.co/EYxqhvajbI
A Leftist West Bengal ‘Rapper’ sings three sentences about #KanhaiyaLal and every RW promoting him without listening to rest of the song and all his Lal Salaam songs.— Arun Pudur 🇮🇳 (@arunpudur) September 14, 2022
RW again falling for another wolf in sheep clothing. How many times will we fall for these traps? Stop it 🛑
Don’t fall for him, he has supported anti CAA, he is a big time communist.go and watch his old videos— Yamaha R15 (@Scintillating06) September 14, 2022
On the other hand, others suggested that even if he ‘secularized’ the rap in the second part, it should be seen as a shift in the ‘Overton Window’.
When a communist also had to attack Islamists along with casteists you know the Overton Window has shifted.— कुशल मेहरा (@kushal_mehra) September 13, 2022
EPR and his history of left-leaning raps
Santhanam Srinivasan Iyer, aka EPR Iyer (Emcee Poet Rapper), is an Indian rapper from Kolkata. The 33-year-old rapper was born in Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, India. Soon after he finished his primary education, his family shifted to Kolkata. He graduated with a broadcast journalism degree from the NSHM Institute of Media and Communication in Kolkata.
EPR developed an interest in rapping during his college days in 2010. He formed a band named ‘!Banned’, which was later disbanded, and he formed another band ‘Underground Authority’ and still performs with it.
EPR has a long history of left-leaning raps. In an interview with Telegraph India, he said if he had not been brought up in Kolkata, he would not have been ‘political’. He said, “I don’t think I would be this political if I grew up somewhere else.” OpIndia scrolled through some of his raps. He released a solo album named ‘Protest poetry’ in 2020 that had 17 tracks based on “social issues”.
‘Chawkidar Chor’ jibe on PM Modi
In track 6 titled ‘Abki Baar Kaun’, EPR used ‘Chowkidar Chor’ jibe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a derogatory slogan that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has extensively used and later apologised in court for the same. He targeted BJP for “using” Abhinandan in political posters and claimed the government was not serious about inflation. He used phrase ‘Abki Bar Kaun Abki bar Kaun, Apna Chor Apna Chowkidar Kaun?’ throughout the rap targeting PM Modi. Though towards the end he targeted all leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Amit Shah, Mamata Banerjee and others, the prime target in the rap were either PM Modi or BJP.
Praised Gauri Lankesh
In one of his raps titled ‘Ekla Cholo Re’, he profusely praised left-leaning journalist Gauri Lankesh. while doing that, he claimed Gauri Lankesh was killed using the same weapon another activist Kalburgi was killed. However, it was rumoured that the same weapon was used but the SIT had denied the same.
Accused the government of delayed vaccination, farmer deaths and more
In yet another rap song titled ‘Reggae Hindustan’ EPR blamed government for the delayed vaccination of Covid-19. The rap was released in June 2021. Notably, by that time India had already administered 2.96 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and in the next few months, India had achieved its target of vaccinating all eligible individuals. The propaganda that India was behind the target was busted by the government several times but the likes of EPR kept on using it for personal gains.
EPR also alleged the government was ‘not feeding the poor’ and spending money on statues. Interestingly, he might be away from the news reports as the government of India had ensured free ration to 80 crore Indians throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. He also alleged ‘Andolanjivis’, Greta, Riana and others were targeted for raising their voices but in reality, they were part of a larger conspiracy to defame India on the international platform. Their propaganda was busted when Greta Thunberg accidentally released the toolkit they had been using during farmer protests.
The anti-CAA-NRC rap
The rap titled ‘We Inna Hindustan’ was released weeks after the violent clash between Delhi Police and anti-CAA protesters in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia where Delhi Police had to use lathi charge to disperse the crowd that was pelting stones at them. EPR mentioned CAA and NRC in such a way that they looked linked which is not true. The NRC draft has not been even released by the government two years after the said protests. He also mentioned the suspension of alleged comedian Kunal Kamra from the flying list after he hackled Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami in a flight but the rap was in favour of Kamra.