An 11-year-old girl in Bidar district's Shaheen Primary and High School is eagerly waiting for the verdict in the bail petition hearing of her mother and her teacher. The court will be hearing their bail pleas on Tuesday.
The mother, Nazbunnisa, and the teacher, Fareeda Begum, were booked for sedition and arrested after a school play voiced dissent against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
"We are hoping that this ordeal is over tomorrow. We still cannot believe that a school play attracted a charge of sedition and that the police visited the school five times to question students," Touseef Madikeri, the school's CEO says.
The play was held on January 21 in Shaheen School following which Nilesh Rakshala, an activist from the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) filed a complaint with the police officials in Bidar's New Town Police Station. He accused the school management of sedition and 'insulting' the Prime Minister through the play. Nazbunissa's daughter Ayesha* (name changed) was alleged to have delivered the dialogues which 'insulted' Prime Minister Modi.
"In the days after the arrest, Ayesha attended school and was questioned by the police three times but on Monday, she missed her prepartory examination and she has now stopped attending school," Touseef says of the 11-year-old whose father passed away earlier and is now staying at the hostel in the school. He further defended the play saying that it was satirical and not hateful.
But Nazbunnisa and Fareeda were arrested on January 30 and are lodged at the Bidar District Prison currently. The judge at the district court was on leave till February 4 and upon returning, the public prosecutor was given one week's time to file objections to the bail petition.
Police officials in Bidar led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Basaveshwara Hira visited the school five times to question students. The police also arrested the two women and booked them for sedition. The police's actions were heavily criticised after a photograph of the police questioning students in uniform was shared widely.
"The police visited the school five times and spoke to students they were not able to speak to earlier. They collected information about the play," Bidar SP DL Nagesh says.
Students in the school, however, told TNM that they were intimidated by the police's repeated questioning. "We were repeatedly asked similar questions like who scripted the play, what our roles were, where we practiced, whether our parents attended," a student said.