Pro-Hindutva activists allege that Ardra shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, but police say there is no evidence of it.

Bengaluru student activists rally around Ardra detained for holding a liberation posterArdra's arrest, screengrab
news CAA Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 17:01

Bengaluru’s student activists are rallying around Ardra, the student protester who was picked up by the SJ Park police near Bengaluru’s Town Hall for holding a liberation poster.  Members of the Hindu Jagrana Vedike, a pro-Hindutva organisation, allege that Arda shouted pro-Pakistan slogans. However, Deputy Commissioner for Police (West) Chetan Rathore, said that there was no evidence that such slogans had been shouted.

Ardra, whose preferred pronouns are they/their, had held a poster that said, "Muslim, Dalit, Kashmiri, Bahujan Adivasi, Trans liberation now," in Kannada and English.

Police took a suo motu case, and booked the protester under sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups either spoken or written, or by signs) and 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), for holding up the poster. The above offences are non-bailable, and Arda must be produced in the court before a plea for bail is processed. The protester was questioned by the SJ Park police on Friday afternoon, and is currently in judicial custody.

Meanwhile, many activists have defended Ardra’s right to freedom and expression.

Twitter user @SashaRanganath said, “My dear friend Ardra has done nothing wrong. They held up a placard demanding Dalit, Muslim and Kashmir freedom, exercising their right to dissent. What the Bengaluru police has done is absolutely unacceptable. #FreeArdra And media, STOP MISGENDERING AND DEADNAMING THEM!!!”

 

 

“This is the poster that Ardra held up. Damn us all if it doesn't resound across protests everywhere. Would be a sin to not also centre Kashmiri youth of ALL genders being hunted down, transported, treated with special vengeance.”

 

 

Ardra is especially affected by the arrest due to medical complications. Teresa Braggs, another student activist, told TNM that Ardra suffers from chronic pain due to severe arthritis. “Arda's parents are in front of the jail where they are being held, to pass on medication for their rheumatoid arthritis. But the parents are speaking to the lawyers and hoping that Ardra can take the medication soon, as the pain flares up with stress and anxiety.”

The court was closed due to the extended weekend, with Friday being Mahashivrathri. Saturday and Sunday are also court holidays. Student activist Teresa Braggs said that they would approach the court on Monday seeking bail for Ardra.

Police Inspector of SJ Park, Tanveer Ahmed, said that the case would be heard by the court on March 5.

The police on Friday took witness statements in connection with Ardra’s case from about 10 members of Sri Rama Sene, Hindu Jagrana Vedike and Hindu Janajagruthi Samiti, some of whose members are accused of murdering journalist Gauri Lankesh. They were at the Town Hall on Friday to protest against the statements made by Amulya, another student activist, who said “Pakistan Zindabad”.

Many of Amulya’s friends say that the slogan “Pakistan Zindabad” was misconstrued, and that putting a charge of sedition was an extremely harsh move. They cite Amulya’s Facebook post on February 16, in which she says in Kannada, “..Whichever country it is - Zindabad to all countries. I don’t become a part of a different nation just because I say Zindabad to that nation. As per law, I am an Indian citizen. It is my duty to respect my nation and work for the people of the country…”

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