Rapper VTEN jailed for song content

Kathmandu, October 24

Police today arrested popular rapper Samir Ghising, aka VTEN, for using, what they called ‘anti-social language’ in one of his songs, in yet another attempt to curtail freedom of expression.

Twenty-two-year-old Ghising, who was rounded up from Jhamshikhel, has been remanded to seven-day police custody.

Lalitpur District Administration Office remanded VTEN to custody. Issues of social offence fall under DAOs’ jurisdiction. Ghising will now have to spend Tihar festival behind bars.

Ghising was arrested by Metropolitan Crime Division, Teku, for using ‘vulgar and derogatory’ words in his latest song ‘Hami Yestai Ta Ho Ni Bro’, which was released on YouTube four months ago. The song has been viewed around 19 million times.

“He was arrested for using vulgar and derogatory language, promoting the use of prohibited drug marijuana, and spreading the wrong message in society,” said MCD Teku chief Senior Superintendent of Police Sahakul Bahadur Thapa. “He has also shared a photo on Facebook, in which he is seen in police uniform with shades and a cigarette in his lips and is breaking down tobacco on a tea tray, as if to roll a joint.”

When asked about the fate of other rappers who use words that Ghising has used in his song, SSP Thapa said, “We will not hesitate to nab anyone using derogatory words in their songs if people lodge complaints against them with police.”

But MCD Teku had arrested Ghising despite no one filing complaint against him. MCD Teku had handed Ghising over to Metropolitan Police Range, Jawalakhel, after rounding him up.

Ghising started rapping about three years ago and has since recorded over a dozen songs. He discusses social and political issues in most of his songs.

Ghising’s popularity surged after he released ‘Hami Yestai Ta Ho Ni Bro’, which, today landed him in police custody. In this song, he has used words like ‘danthe’, a derogatory term for police, has talked about smoking weed and having sex with prostitutes in Thailand, and has sworn a couple of times.

The song was removed from VTEN’s official YouTube site today but it can be found on other pages of social media.

Ghising’s arrest has been widely condemned on social media not only by rap fans but by others as well. They have deemed the move an attempt to curtail freedom of expression.

“If artists are arrested on the basis of their social and political views, then it is a blatant attack on freedom of expression. Everyone should raise voice against this practice, as moral policing will lead to formation of a closed society,” said Radheshyam Adhikari, senior advocate and a member of parliament, adding, “If we start objecting to metaphors used by artists, then we should dismantle age-old heritage sites that display erotic art, which has now become a part of Nepali culture.”

This is not the first time police have arrested singers for their choice of words since the government led by KP Sharma Oli came to power. Two days ago, police arrested singer Durgesh Thapa for releasing ‘Happy Tihar, Chiso Beer’. Folk singer Pashupati Sharma was also rounded up for releasing his song, ‘Lutna Sake Lut Kancha’. Both of them had to remove their songs from YouTube.

Earlier in June, YouTuber Pranesh Gautam was also arrested for airing negative commentary about a movie through YouTube.