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Friday, February 21, 2020

Bidar school sedition case: Bengaluru MLA Rizwan Arshad meets headmistress, parent jailed in Bidar; protests begin in Bengaluru

Meanwhile, protesters got together in Bengaluru for a candle-light vigil and protests demanding an immediate halt to the 'inhuman' act of the police.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru, Bidar (karnataka) | Published: February 5, 2020 5:42:30 pm
Protesters in Bengaluru alleged Bidar police of indulging in a ‘clear violation of the Juvenile Justice Act’ for questioning minor students over a sedition case. Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal

As Karnataka police continue to question Class 4 and 5 students of a school in Bidar over a sedition case even as their headmistress and a parent is in jail, Shivajinagar Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad met Bidar Superintendent of Police to raise objections on the sedition charges filed against the two arrested.

“The actions of the police are certainly under the pressure of the Yediyurappa-led government in Karnataka and is of a repulsive nature,” he said.

Later, he visited the single mother and the headmistress who are lodged in Bidar district prison and Shaheen Urdu Primary School expressing solidarity with them.

Rizwan Arshad MLA meets arrested accused Bidar sedition case jail Shivajinagar (Bengaluru) MLA Rizwan Arshad addresses media after visiting the arrested in Bidar district jail.

According to Bidar police, arrests were made on January 30 after ‘collecting basic evidence’ based on a complaint lodged by social worker Neelesh Rakshaal on January 26. The police, in civilian clothes, have visited the school to question students in various batches at least five times since then, leading to widespread protests across the nation.

Meanwhile, protesters got together in Bengaluru for a candle-light vigil demanding an immediate halt to the ‘inhuman’ act of the police.

Erecting a banner which read ‘Humanity is our only religion,’ the angry protesters raised four major demands: Protect Freedom of Speech; drop sedition charges; stop interrogating children; release the mother and teacher arrested.

Also pointing out that the minors deserved an ‘interrogation-free childhood,’ Ramesh Arjun, a college student, condemned ‘police harassment’ calling it “ironic.”

READ| School ‘sedition’ arrests: 9-yr-old waits for mother to be freed, police seize slippers, question children

He said, “Such actions indicate the double standards this government runs on. While goons yield guns at student protesters in the national capital every other day, nine to ten-year-old students are subjected to police inquiry citing ‘law and order situations’ in a remote village in Karnataka. Our system is failing day after day.”

Bengaluru-candle-light-vigil-Bidar-sedition-school Protesters in Bengaluru demanded the immediate release of the single mother and headmistress arrested from Shaheen School in Bidar on sedition charges. Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal

Meanwhile, Anivar Aravind, a techie who turned up with his wife and two kids for the protests held at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru on Tuesday said the ‘police brutality’ is an attack on the creativity and freedom of expression of the students and the school.

He added, “The police repeatedly questioning the students in the absence of their parents is a clear violation of the Juvenile Justice Act. This serious situation also indicates the failure of child rights commission, women’s rights commission and other agencies to respond to this.”

Bidar-school-sedition-protests-Bengaluru Protesters in Bengaluru included parents. students, activists, and other like-minded citizens. Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal

At the same time, Prajval Shastri, an astrophysicist, condemned how certain words and ideas were getting redefined lately in the country. “Civilised societies learn to ‘agree to disagree’ in a respectful manner. However, ‘disagreement’ has been redefined in our country as ‘sedition’ and that is highly inappropriate. We need to support and uphold the Indian Constitution and its values,” she said.

Later, a candle-light vigil was also held in the city as many pointed out the ‘lack of space for expressing dissent’ in India these days. “Sedition charges are slapped against anything that is expressed against the likes of the government. Terming anyone who questions the establishment as anti-national is not acceptable,” Dharshini Jenefer, a teacher educator said.

Meanwhile, former KPCC president and incumbent MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao submitted a plea to Karnataka DG & IGP Praveen Sood condemning the act of the police. “By no stretch of imagination, does such an innocent act of protest be perceived as sedition or treason. We strongly condemn this act,” he mentioned in the letter.

“In cases like Ram Nandan Vs State, the Supreme Court has clearly stated that the authorities were overstepping the limits of reason in charging protesters with sedition. It is high time the law is amended suitably to prevent its misuse,” he added further requesting the top cop to withdraw the case and release the accused immediately.

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