Justifying the actions of Bidar police, which has come under fire for questioning school children, BJP MP Bhagwanth Khuba and district in-charge minister Prabhu Chauhan criticised Shaheen Primary and High School and asked that the state government blacklist it.
After primary school students in the school in Bidar district staged a play on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and voiced dissent against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they were subjected to five rounds of questioning by police officials. The widowed mother of an 11-year-old student, who took part in the play, and a teacher of the school were arrested on charges of sedition.
Calling the play 'seditious,’ BJP MP from Bidar Bhagwanth Khuba said it was an offence to tell children to shame the country and its laws. "I request that the education department should take action as per the law and this school, which is run like a madrassa, should be banned. The school is disturbing social harmony. If this school is not shut down, then there is no doubt that it will threaten the sovereignty of this country. The education department should blacklist the school and the accused persons should be charged with anti-national activities," reads the statement issued by the MP dated January 27.
Prabhu Chauhan, who is MLA of Aurad and Minister of Animal Husbandry and Minority Welfare, echoed Khuba's words in an interview with a television reporter. "What has happened at Shaheen College should not happen again. An enquiry will happen and it will be found who is responsible," Prabhu Chauhan said.
Reacting to the news of Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad visiting the school, he said, "That is what I am saying. No pimping (bh**wagiri) will be allowed here. I am capable, I will look after my district. So whatever he does, won't work here. Our police is doing very good work. Whoever is guilty will be punished. Shaheen college will not be allowed to go scot-free. Whoever writes dirty things, we will not leave them," he added.
Child rights groups have condemned the police's questioning of school-going students in Bidar. Police officials led by Bidar Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Basaveshwar Hira have turned up at the school five times to question students and staff members connected to the play staged on January 21.
The Karnataka State Commission for Child Rights sought a report from the Bidar Superintendent of Police over the questioning of school students in Bidar. The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Bidar district has also issued a notice to police officials regarding their conduct in investigating the incident.
Karnataka's DG and IGP Praveen Sood said that though he would not defend the actions of Bidar police, the interrogation of children took place before he took charge as the DG and IGP. He assured a delegation of lawyers and activists who met him in his office on Thursday that the police would be sympathetic to the accused in the case.
Meanwhile, the Bidar district and sessions court, which is hearing the bail petition of the accused, posted the hearing to February 11. Until then Nazbunnisa, the mother of the 11-year-old student, and Fareeda Begum, the head-teacher of the school's primary section will continue to languish in jail.