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19-year-old, who raised slogans at rally, charged with sedition, sent to jail

The 19-year-old student of English from the NMKRV College in Bengaluru was forced down the stage at Freedom Park Thursday evening — which also featured AIMIM President Asauddin Owaisi — soon after she said “Pakistan Zindabad” in the beginning of her speech.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru | Updated: February 22, 2020 6:19:27 am
President of the All India MIM Asaduddin Owaisi attempts to stop an unidentified woman who allegedly raised pro-Pakistan slogans during a protest against CAA, NRC and NPR in Bengaluru, Thursday, Feb.20, 2020. (PTI)

In March 2016, shortly after BJP’s West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh said that those shouting slogans like “Pakistan Zindabad” would be beheaded, a 16-year-old pre-university student in Mysuru in Karnataka put out a post on her social media account, referencing the BJP leader’s remarks, saying: “I believe in ultimate brotherhood, I believe in the collective sense of universal being. These borders mean nothing to me after a point.”

Much of the post also featured the song ‘Imagine’ by the singer, song-writer John Lennon.

The student, Amulya Leona Noronha, now a 19-year-old college goer, and in recent days a speaker at several anti-CAA protests across the state, was arrested Thursday night before she could complete a speech which featured chants of “Pakistan Zindabad” at one such rally in Bengaluru.

She was produced before a magistrate Thursday post-midnight and sent to judicial custody for 14 days. DCP Bengaluru (West) B Ramesh said the police registered a suo motu case against Amulya under Section 124A (sedition), Sections 153A and 153B (promoting enmity between different groups and imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration).

Editorial | Scared of speech

The 19-year-old student of English from the NMKRV College in Bengaluru was forced down the stage at Freedom Park Thursday evening — which also featured AIMIM President Asauddin Owaisi — soon after she said “Pakistan Zindabad” in the beginning of her speech. Her friends described this as part of an effort by Amulya to convey a message of brotherhood.

“Please see her Facebook post of February 16, 2020. Loving another country does not mean you are going against your own — this is exactly what she was trying to say. She is promoting unity among nations. This is what Gandhi has written multiple times during the freedom struggle,’’ said a friend, who did not wish to be named.

Explained | Sedition case for ‘pro-Pak’ slogans: What did SC rule on archaic law?

In the February 16 post, Amulya Leona Noronha, said Zindabad for about seven Asian countries including India and Pakistan. “I do not become a person from another country by merely saying Zindabad about that country. As per law, I am an Indian citizen. It is my duty to respect my country and work for its citizens,’’ she said.

The full video clips of Amulya Leona’s curtailed speech on Thursday 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.

“Before she could complete what she wanted to say, they surrounded her and grabbed the mike. She was later placed under arrest on charges of sedition. What she was trying to say was that if we love one country it does not mean we should hate another,’’ said another friend of the 19-year-old who was part of the protests at the Freedom Park.

The student who grew up in the Malnad region — a literary hot bed of Karnataka — going to school in the Koppa area of Chikamagalur district, is not identified with any youth outfits in the political spectrum but has been linked to a students’ alliance in Bengaluru. Her father Wesly Noronha, an activist in local environmental movements, lives in Koppa.

Miscreants vandalised their residence in Koppa Thursday night after the incident in Bengaluru. In a video, some unidentified men were seen demanding Wesly Noronha to say “Bharat mata ki jai.” He is heard saying, “I have not spoken to my daughter for five days.” When the men asked him if he would seek bail, Noronha said, “I will not approach lawyers for her bail.”

In Mysuru, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa alleged Amulya had links with naxalites. “Amulya’s links with naxalites have been proved in an investigation,” he alleged, and said she must be punished.

(With inputs from Darshan Devaiah BP)

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