Updated: May 15, 2022 9:49:44 am
A college student who chanted slogans for universal brotherhood, three Kashmiri students who got into a fight with college mates after the Pulwama terror attack, and a youth who was the operator of a pro-ISIS Twitter handle are among the persons accused of sedition in Karnataka who are likely to get some relief after a Supreme Court order on May 11 effectively put a hold on cases under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Among key sedition cases that are still in the trial stage in Karnataka are those of Amulya Leona Noronha, a 19-year-old student arrested in 2020 during a speech to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), three Kashmiri students who got into a fight with college mates over social media posts after the Pulwama incident in 2019, and Mehdi Masroor Biswas, an operator of a pro-ISIS social media handle in 2014.
The sedition clause has also been invoked in two terror recruitment and radicalisation cases from 2012 and 2020 registered in Bengaluru. All cases other than that of the student activist Noronha also involve the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which is used in terrorism cases.
Here are the key cases under trial in Karnataka where the sedition clause has been invoked:
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Amulya Leona Noronha
Nineteen-year-old college student Amulya Leona Noronha, who was often invited to anti-CAA rallies to deliver speeches, was arrested on February 20, 2020 before she could complete a speech which featured chants of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. She was charged with sedition and promoting enmity between groups by the Bengaluru police although her friends said she was trying to convey a message of universal humanity by chanting ‘zindabad’ in the name of all nations, including Hindustan, which she had often conveyed in social media posts as well since she was a 16-year-old high school student. Noronha was granted bail in June 2020. The case against her is still under trial. Apart from sedition, she is accused under IPC Sections 153(A) (promoting enmity) and 505 (2) (public mischief).
Kashmiri nursing students Haris Manzoor, Gowhar Mushtaq and Zaqir Maqbool
A complaint was filed by the principal of Spurthy College of Nursing against the three students from two different colleges for an alleged fight that happened in the hostel over pro-Indian Army and anti-Indian Army messages posted on Facebook after the Pulwama attack by two sets of students. The Kashmiri students have been accused of attacking a student in the hostel. The Suryanagar police in Anekal taluk of Bangalore Rural district registered a case under Section 13 of UAPA for supporting an unlawful activity and under IPC Sections 124 A for sedition, Section 153 A for promoting enmity between groups, Section 323 for voluntarily causing hurt and Section 504 for provoking breach of peace. The Kashmiri students later obtained bail. The case is still under trial.
Mehdi Masroor Biswas, operator of a pro-ISIS Twitter handle
Mehdi Masroor Biswas, originally from West Bengal, was arrested by the Bengaluru police on December 13, 2014 after UK’s Channel 4 identified him as the operator of a pro-IS Twitter handle. At the time of his arrest, he was working as an executive at a multinational food company. He was initially booked under Section 125 of the IPC for “waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the Government of India” and under Section 39 of UAPA for supporting a terrorist organisation. He has also been booked for sedition. The case is still under trial.
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