Authorities at a school in Karnataka’s Bidar city have been booked on sedition charges after students performed a play criticising the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, The New Indian Express reported on Tuesday. The play was performed on Sunday, and a case was filed the following day after its video started doing the rounds on social media.
Shaheen Education Institute Chief Executive Officer Thouseef Madikeri told The Quint accused the police of “mentally harassing the students and the staff” for the last three days, and interrogating students in classes 4 and 5.
“Yesterday, they sealed the control room,” Madikeri told the news website. “Today, they have started interrogating the students of Classes 4 and 5. It was staged by five to six students in which they took a jibe at PM [Narendra] Modi. Someone made a video and shared on social media. They are accusing us of spreading communal violence and hatred which will create disturbance in society.”
Madikeri said the school authorities were trying to get bail. Local journalist Mohammad Yousuf Rahim, who uploaded the video on social media, was also booked.
The complaint was filed by social worker Nilesh Rakshyal, who claimed that the play had portrayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a “bad light”, according to News18. It further alleged that the video going viral on social media could disrupt the peace and send an incorrect message about the government’s policies and decisions.
The play allegedly presented the idea that people of only one community would have to leave the country if the amended citizenship law and the NRC were implemented. Rakshyal demanded action against Rahim and the school’s authorities. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad demonstrated against the school.
The police has sealed the school where the play was performed and further investigation is underway, ANI reported. The school principal has been booked under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting communal hatred), 504 (provoking breach of peace), 505(2) (statements promoting enmity) and 34 (act done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.
The government’s critics and some protestors fear that the amended law clubbed with the NRC will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion. There are now fears that a nation-wide NRC will be imposed. The Assam NRC had left out around 6% of the state’s population. Work has also begun on the National Population Register, which is the first step before creating an all-Indian NRC identifying undocumented migrants residing in India.