The Kerala Police on Friday arrested 18 more persons in connection with a case of provocative slogans being raised at a Popular Front of India rally in Alappuzha district, ANI reported.
The incident happened on May 21 during a “Save the Republic” rally held by the party in the district. A purported video from the rally had shown a boy sitting on a man’s shoulder and shouting slogans against Hindus and Christians in Kerala.
“These [18 arrested] were the people who were repeating the slogans raised by the child,” an unidentified official of the Kerala Police said, according to ANI.
The police also detained the father of the boy, PTI reported. He said that his son had learnt from previous events.
“We used to take part in the PFI’s programmes,” he said. “He had learnt the slogan when he attended a protest programme against the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act. I don’t understand why it has become a controversy now.”
The police had earlier arrested two persons, including Popular Front of India Alappuzha district president Nawas Vandanam, according to The Indian Express.
They have been charged under Sections 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups), 295(A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 505(1)(b) (act against the public tranquillity), 505(1)(c) (intent to incite), 505(2) (statements conducive to public mischief committed in a place of worship), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and 120(o) of the Kerala Police Act.
Popular Front of India Kerala unit chief CP Muhammed said that Vandanam’s arrest under non-bailable charges was undemocratic.
“Police action is biased and is equal to playing into the hands of RSS [Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh] bigots who want to portray that the slogans were raised not against them but religious communities,” Basheer said, according to The Times of India. “There is an increasing influence of RSS in Kerala and these new developments underline this fact.”
On May 24, the party had said that slogans raised at the Alappuzha rally were against the policy of the outfit and that it would look into the matter.
“Thousands of party workers and others joined the rally protesting against the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh].” the party had said. “The visual of a boy raising slogans came to our notice now. Those slogans were not approved or given by the organisers of the rally. It’s not the policy of the organisation to provoke or raise provocative slogans.”