Advocacy group Amnesty International’s Bangalore unit was booked on sedition charges on Monday, after members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad complained that an event the NGO had organised on human rights violations in Kashmir was “anti-national”. The event, “Broken Families”, took place on Saturday at United Theological College. It was attended by activists, journalists and the relatives of Kashmiris who had gone missing allegedly because of covert operations by security forces.
Several families shared their stories of loss, while others presented their views on the current situation in the state. According to The News Minute, arguments broke out towards the end of the event between those who were supportive of the Indian Army and others who blamed it for violating the rights of Kashmiris. In the discussion that followed, some attendees raised slogans demanding azadi (freedom).
According to the complaint of the ABVP, which is the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, participants “sang anti-national songs, raised anti-national slogans, made anti-India and anti-national speeches and raised slogans saying India’s Kashmir should go to Pakistan.” It also claimed that the event supported terrorism and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, and was thus anti-India.
After the event, the Amnesty released a statement saying, “Amnesty International as a matter of policy does not take any position in favour of or against demands for self-determination. However, Amnesty International India considers that the right to freedom of expression under international human rights law protects the right to peacefully advocate political solutions that do not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence.”
A case has been filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including unlawful assembly, rioting, sedition, promoting enmity and common intent. However, the police said they would investigate the matter before making any arrests.