The Bengaluru Police on Saturday detained Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Rizwan Arshad and K Suresh after they tried to organise a protest march to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s office, ANI reported. The Congress leaders had organised the rally to protest against the Bidar sedition case, and the alleged misuse of the police by the state government.
“Police is being misused by this government, those who raise their voices against central government and BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] are being booked for sedition,” Rao had told ANI earlier in the day. “We are going to protest in front of the chief minister’s office.”
Rao and Suresh tried to jump the barricades the police had set up to prevent the leaders from reaching Yediyurappa’s office, PTI reported. The march, which began from Gandhi statue on Race Course Road, also led to a traffic jam.
Siddaramaiah called the police action undemocratic, even as he was being led away. “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.
On Friday, a local court in Karnataka’s Bidar district granted bail to two women who were arrested on January 30 after the students of a school allegedly performed a play criticising the Citizenship Amendment Act. One of the women is the head teacher at Shaheen Urdu Medium Primary School, and the other is the mother of a student who performed in the play.
The police claimed the play, which was staged on January 21, was seditious and inflammatory. They said the students – in classes 4, 5 and 6 – insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The police drew flak for filing the sedition charges on the basis of a complaint of an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activist. The outfit is the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. They were also roundly criticised for questioning young students, including a nine-year-old.
Several political leaders have criticised the police and the state government for filing the sedition charges, and repeatedly questioning schoolchildren. Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights pulled up the district police earlier this week for violating the Juvenile Justice Act norms, and asked the police to stop questioning children. The child’s rights commission also said many students had stopped going to the school due to the police investigation.
The Child Welfare Committee of Bidar district has also issued a notice to the police.
High Court issues notice to state
Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court on Friday issued a notice to the state government, seeking its reply to a public interest litigation that sought action against the police for illegally questioning the schoolchildren, Bar and Bench reported.
The bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar sought the state government’s response by February 19, but refused to pass any interim order.