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Siddaramaiah, Rizwan Arshad & Other Congress Leaders Detained During Protest Against Shaheen School Sedition Case

Several Karnataka Congress leaders, including former chief minister Siddaramaiah, state president Dinesh Gundu Rao, and MLA Rizwan Arshad were detained by Bengaluru Police on Saturday after they tried to organise a protest march to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s office.

The Congress leaders had organised the rally to protest against the sedition case slapped against a widowed mother of a 9-year-old student and the teacher of Bidar’s Shaheen school. The opposition leaders alleged misuse of the police department by the state government to book cases against those opposing BJP and its “divisive policies”.

Siddaramaiah called the police action undemocratic, as he was being detained. “Police have no right to suppress or take away our rights,” he said. Siddaramaiah said that despite BJP leaders using filthy language and making anti-national remarks no action had been taken against them, but cases have been booked against its leader U T Khader and a student from Mysuru for opposing CAA and NRC.

“From wrongfully arresting a parent & a teacher of Shaheen school, Bidar to the repeated inhuman interrogations of the school kids, the police department under BJP administration has grossly abused power & has sought to create
authoritarian rule. This shall not be tolerated (sic),” Arshad tweeted earlier in the day.

“The BJP govt is using the Police to protect the misdeeds of their leaders and targeting anyone who are opposing them. Sedition cases lodged, sec144 illegally being imposed & innocents killed in police firing, (sic)” Gundu Rao tweeted.

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On Friday, a local court in Bidar granted bail to the parent and the teacher of Shaheen School who were arrested on January 30 after the students of the school performed a play criticising the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Nazbunnisa, the mother of Ayesha, a 9-year-old female student, and Fareeda Begum, the head-teacher of Shaheen School in Bidar were released after 14 days in prison. The Police had filed an FIR against them after Neelesh Rakshyal, member of the far-right Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), had filed a complaint on January 26.

They were booked under Sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting, attempting to promote disharmony) and 34 (common intent) of the IPC.

The Karnataka Police has come under heavy criticism for their aggressive action of arresting a widowed mother and the teacher for staging a play and the way, it conducted itself by interrogating little children.

Students as young as nine years old were repeatedly interrogated by the police for participating in the play. The interrogation of minor children only stopped after the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights slammed the Bidar district police for violating rules and for creating “atmosphere of fear” at the school.

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A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Karnataka High Court seeking action against the Bidar police, states that about 85 students studying in classes 4-6, were repeatedly questioned, “thus creating a very hostile environment for students, affecting their education and mental state of mind”. “The police questioned the students in uniform and selected students according to their whims and fancies.”

Shaik Zakeer Hussain is the Founder and Editor of The Cognate.

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