The Karnataka Police on Saturday arrested three Kashmiri students studying at the KLE Institute of Technology in Hubballi under charges of sedition. The arrests came after the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, staged protests inside the college calling the three students ‘anti-nationals’ for raising slogans purportedly in favour of Pakistan in a video.
On Saturday morning, a student of the college, also a member of Bajrang Dal, received a video on WhatsApp of the three Kashmiri students and alleged that the three students had hailed Pakistan in the video. He informed the outfit’s members about the three students, after which a group of Bajrang Dal’s members gathered outside the college and began shouting slogans. “Arrest the anti-nationals, arrest the anti-nationals,” the Bajrang Dal members shouted.
In the video which has now gone viral, one of the three students can be seen initially uttering something with background music on, after which they chant 'Azadi' one after the other. Then joining the chorus to the music that is playing, one of the students says "Pakistan" and after a few beats he says "Zindabad." The music they played is said to be Pakistani military's media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) song, which police said needs to be ascertained. The video seems to have been recorded at the college hostel.
Speaking to TNM, Shivanand Sattigiri, a member of the Bajrang Dal, who led the protest, said that he and several other members went to meet the College Principal to demand that the three students be handed over to the police.
Protests by members of Bajrang Dal
“The Bajrang Dal members barged into the college and began shouting slogans. They said that a video of the three students from Kashmir had gone viral and that they were making anti-national statements. They demanded that I call the police,” said Basavaraj, the Principal of KLE Institute of Technology.
Basavaraj said that he called the police. However, a scuffle broke out between the Bajrang Dal members and the three students. “We got into an argument with the students. We began saying that people like them must be chased down and killed in every street. That’s when the argument happened,” Bajrang Dal member Shivanand Sattigiri said.
Hubballi-Dharwad Police Commissioner Dileep said that the Principal of the college then called the Gokul Road Police Station and informed him about the protests being staged by Bajrang Dal.
“We have arrested the three students. Two of them were in the first year and one was in the third year. They are from Kashmir’s Shopian and they have been booked for sedition and disrupting communal harmony,” Commissioner Dileep said.
However, it is to be noted that on the basis of Bajrang Dal's complaint, the Karnataka police have once again used sedition charges. In the recent past, the use of the draconian law has been criticised many times. Sedition law pertains to those whose words lead to a cognisable act of violence or are used in a bid to overthrow the government.
(With PTI inputs)