In an act of defiance against the Karnataka government, former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy read out the poem penned by Siraj Bisaralli titled Ninna Dakhale Yaavaga Needuttee? (When will you give your documents?”) on the floor of the Karnataka Assembly on Wednesday. The poem had landed the poet and journalist Siraj in trouble with the police recently, and he was arrested on charges of provoking breach of peace and causing public mischief.
"What is there in this (poem)? When poet Nissar Ahmed wrote Kurigalu Saar Kurigalu, who was he referring to? Politicians like us. Was he arrested?," Kumaraswamy asked on the floor of the house questioning the police's actions against the poet. Kurigalu Saar Kurigalu (Sheep Sir Sheep) is a famous poem by KS Nissar Ahmed on herd mentality.
Kumaraswamy then went on to read out the text of the poem. The poem, written in Kannada, has since been translated into as many as 13 languages. Reciting the entire poem on the floor of the Assembly, Kumaraswamy sought to know what was wrong in that poem that the poet was booked and arrested.
A translation of the original Kannada poem reads as follows,
Amidst the queue for Aadhaar and ration,
Monkeying about for thumbprints and servers,
The people are losing their lives to documents
Where are your documents, you who demands it?
You (referring to ruling govt) who are rejecting those who sacrificed their lives happily for freedom,
One who is tearing at the pages of history,
When will you show your documents?
You who is asking documents from Taj Mahal, Charminar,
And the red stoned Qutub Minar, where are your documents?
Licking the boots of the British,
Drinking blood in the name of religious hatred,
You who believes in Goebbels' ideology,
Where are your documents?
Those selling pakodas,
Those selling tea in my town,
Have not lost their sense of humanity,
They have not lost their self respect,
They haven't spun stories of lies,
Tell me, when will you give your documents?
Janata Dal (Secular) leader Kumaraswamy said that there was nothing objectionable in the poem by Siraj Bisaralli to warrant his arrest. He also questioned the state government about the sedition case registered against the mother of a student and a teacher at Shaheen Primary and High School in Bidar district following a school play on the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Siraj Bisaralli, a poet and journalist with many Kannada books to his name, was arrested under sections 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505(2) (Statements conducive to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code after he recited the poem Ninna Dakhale Yaavaga Needuttee? (When will you give your documents?”) at the Anegundi Utsava, a cultural festival held in Koppal district on January 9. He was arrested based on a complaint by a BJP Yuva Morcha member and he was released on bail on Wednesday.
While Kumaraswamy asked what is 'seditious' about the poem on the floor of the House, it is to be noted that the poet was not charged with sedition. He was arrested on charges of provoking breach of peace and public mischief. An FIR was registered at the Gangavathi Rural Police Station in Koppal on January 24 against Siraj and Rajabaxi HV, a journalist who shared the poem online. Rajabaxi is the editor of Kannadanet.com.
"They went absconding after that and surrendered before the court on Tuesday," a police official told PTI. The duo were granted bail by the district court on Wednesday.
With inputs from PTI