After spending more than two weeks in prison over an anti-NRC play, the mother of a student and a head-teacher at Shaheen Primary and High School in Bidar were granted bail by the district and sessions court on Friday. The two will be released against a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh each, the court said.
“The accused/petitioners will be released on bail… on their executing personal bond in a sum of Rs. 1 lakh each with two sureties for the like sum to the satisfaction of the Jurisdictional Magistrate,” Judge M Premavathi said in her bail order.
The two women have also been asked by the court to appear before the investigating officer in the case when they are called upon.
“We are happy to hear that bail was granted to both the teacher and the mother of the student. We still can’t believe that a satirical play critical of NRC attracted a charge of sedition,” Touseef Madikeri, CEO of Shaheen Primary and High School told TNM after the bail was confirmed.
The school management was charged with sedition over a play, staged by students of classes 4, 5 and 6 on January 21, which voiced dissent against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Nazbunnisa, the mother of a student, and Fareeda Begum, the head-teacher of the school's primary section, were arrested on January 30. The bail granted on Friday means that Nazbunnisa will finally be reunited with her daughter after two weeks.
For the last two weeks, the two women were lodged in Bidar District Prison even as 11-year-old Ayesha* (name changed) waited for her mother to return. Nazbunissa is a widow and her arrest had left Ayesha in the care of their neighbour, Hafeez. She was shifted to the school hostel this week.
Police officials in Bidar questioned students at the school five times, a move that drew widespread criticism. “We were surprised that our children were questioned for five days at the school. We cannot blame the complainant because it is due to the failure of the executive i.e the police department that we are facing sedition charges today,” Touseef added.
Representing the two women in court, advocate BT Venkatesh had, during the hearing on February 11, argued that the case was politically motivated and that two women in a place like Bidar were not a threat to the state. He stated that the slogans in the play did not create unrest and promote disaffection towards the government. He added that the contents of the play did not amount to sedition.
The public prosecutor argued that the women would leave the country and possibly destroy evidence if they are granted bail. The prosecutor cited the recent case of Kris Chudawala, who was booked along with 50 others for sedition in Mumbai.
The arguments in the case were completed on February 11 and the bail orders were posted for February 14.
The police complaint against the school was filed by Nilesh Rakshala, a right-wing activist, on January 26. He accused the school management of 'insulting' Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the play. Police turned up to question students at the school connected with the play on five occasions. Police officials enquired about the dialogues in the play and about the involvement of the teachers and parents in the play.