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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Behind Govt’s claim of Naxal link: Amulya’s father stood surety for 2 who joined mainstream in 2014

According to sources, about 15 years ago, Amulya's father Osvald Noronha was part of a group of mainstream activists in Malnad region of Karnataka involved with the welfare of local communities.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru | Updated: February 23, 2020 4:48:06 am
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Amulya Leona Noronha, the 19-year-old college student arrested in Bengaluru for sedition, is being investigated for alleged links with Naxal groups. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Friday that “preliminary investigations revealed that she had association with Naxal organisations in the past’’.

While neither Amulya nor her family members have any case against them for alleged Naxal links, police sources said the government’s allegation has emerged from the fact that Amulya’s father, Osvald Noronha (48), stood surety for the release of two men who were linked to the Naxal movement, before they voluntarily joined the mainstream in 2014.

According to sources, about 15 years ago, Noronha was part of a group of mainstream activists in Malnad region of Karnataka involved with the welfare of local communities. He stood surety in his hometown of Koppa for two alleged Naxals, Sirimane Nagaraj and Noor Sridhar, who joined the mainstream under a government amnesty scheme in 2014.

Read | Amulya to Azamgarh, sedition law used without questions, SC guidelines ignored

“The charge of her association with Naxals has been made without any proof. There is no evidence to substantiate this, you can ask the police who have been questioning me about this,’’ Noronha said on Saturday. “Around 10 to 15 years ago, I came in contact with a few people in Koppa, and I had no recourse but to stand surety for them,’’ he said.

According to family friends, Nagaraj, now 69, who was associated with Naxals before he surrendered in 2014, was earlier a neighbour of the Noronhas. After his return to the mainstream, with the assistance of activists like freedom fighter H S Doreswamy and journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh who was killed in 2017, Nagaraj, who did not have any serious case against him, is reported to have visited Noronha in 2015, along with Doreswamy and others.

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“There is no way Amulya could be linked to Naxals then, since she was a school student who only entered college in Bengaluru two years ago. Her father was concerned about her losing focus from studies after the anti-CAA protests began. Last month, he came to Bengaluru and I was there when he told her to focus on studies rather than activism. He feared that she was being misled by people,’’ said a family friend in Bengaluru.

Amulya is the only daughter of her parents, whose source of income is a two-acre farm in Koppa, in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. “Their family enjoys a good reputation in Koppa area, where they are second generation settlers from Mangalore. He (Noronha) has a brother in the defence forces; their grandfather finds a mention in the memorial for Kannada literary great Kuvempu for promoting literature. He and his family have continued the association with writers and thinkers,’’ said the family friend.

“Amulya was always inclined towards writing and speaking. She began writing poems when she was in Class III,’’ said Noronha. “What Amulya has done is not acceptable. I and my family will not agree with her statement. It has hurt the feelings of all Indians… but she also deserves a chance to correct herself,” he said.

According to residents, Noronha earlier worked for a BJP candidate in the local elections, and was recently associated with a JD(S) candidate.

Following her arrest, many people associated with the anti-CAA protests have distanced themselves from Amulya. “She has been very irresponsible. The women at Bengaluru’s Bilal Bagh (where Muslim women have been on protest) are angry that their movement has been undermined by her slogans. Given the times that we are living in, they feel she should not have said what she did,’’ said a woman activist associated with the Bilal Bagh protest.

Amulya was arrested Thursday night before she could complete a speech which featured chants of “Pakistan Zindabad” at an anti-CAA rally in Bengaluru. The full video clips of her curtailed speech show her chanting “Hindustan Zindabad” soon after the “Pakistan Zindabad” chants and trying to tell the audience — after her mike was taken away — that all nations are one.

— With inputs from Darshan Devaiah B

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