The police in Bidar city of Karnataka on Thursday booked the mother of a school student and the head teacher for sedition after a play was staged by the students against the Citizenship Amendment Act, The News Minute reported on Friday. The police made the arrests after school authorities prevented them from questioning students for long periods of time.
Officers from Bidar New Town Police Stat arrested Nazbunnisa, 26, the mother of a girl who played a role in the play and Fareeda Begum, 52, the head teacher of Shaheen School, who was involved in staging it. The two 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 Indian Penal Code.
The head teacher of the school had organised the play with students of Class 4, 5 and 6 participating in it on January 21. The police made the arrests based on a complaint by Nilesh Rakshala, an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Following the complaint, three policemen visited the school and questioned the students, including a nine-year old.
“The management tried to create ‘fear’ among the Muslims that they would have to leave the country if the CAA and NRC [National Register of Citizens] are implemented,” Rakshala said in his complaint, PTI reported. A resident had uploaded a video of the event on his Facebook page, but later took it down.
Tauseef Madikeri, chief executive officer of Shaheen School, told The Wire that the police wanted all students who had participated in the play to be brought to the police station. But the school refused to do so, he added. “We plainly told them we won’t allow any child to be taken to the police station. It is against the Juvenile Justice Act,” he said.
In a video of the play, which The News Minute said it had seen, a child is shown saying: “The government is telling Muslims to leave India and go away.” In reply, the other child says, “Amma, Modi is saying show documents of your father and grandfather otherwise he is telling us to leave the country.” A third child responds: “Hit them with slippers if anybody asks for documents.”
Madikeri said that while the play focused largely on the concerns of the Muslim community, the line which recommended beating people who ask for documents with slippers landed the school in trouble. “This line was a generic one and was not intended to target anyone,” the school CEO claimed. “But it has been wrongly interpreted.” The police arrested the mother of the girl child who uttered this line.
Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC
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. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam. On Tuesday, two protestors died in protests in Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal.
The National Register of Citizens, on the other hand, is a proposed exercise to distinguish undocumented migrants from Indian citizens. One such exercise carried out in Assam last year led to the exclusion of over 19 lakh people.