The Congress in Karnataka on Saturday held a protest in Bengaluru accusing the ruling BJP government of "breaking democratic ideals." The Congress accused the BJP government of curtailing the fundamental rights of people by imposing sedition cases against those who spoke out against Citizenship Amendment Act.
"Whenever they (BJP) want, they impose section 144 to curtail people from protesting against CAA and NRC (National Register of Citizens). They have slapped sedition case against a poor mother in Bidar for speaking out against CAA. These kinds of things are not done in a democracy. People's fundamental rights are being curtailed," former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said.
Congress leaders including Siddaramaiah, Gandhinagar MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao and Bengaluru Rural MP DK Suresh along with several other leaders gathered at Maurya Circle in Bengaluru to lead a protest march to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's official residence -- Kaveri, located in Kumara Krupa Road. However, Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Rizwan Aarshad and DK Suresh were detained on Race Course Road.
Gundu Rao and DK Suresh tried to jump the barricade erected by the police to stop them, and march towards the Chief Ministers residence, but were stopped midway and detained.
"Police force is being is being misused by the BJP government. Those who are raising their voices and speaking out against the Union government and the BJP leaders are being booked for sedition. We are going to protest in front of Chief Minister's residence," former Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dinesh Gundu Rao said.
The Congress leaders and protesters were detained, as the Congress party workers planned to lock the gates of the CM's office.
Security was heightened outside Kaveri on Saturday in the wake of the protest march that was to be held. "The current government is misusing the police department and have used their influence to slap sedition cases against innocent people. This is blatant violation of fundamental rights. How can criticising BJP leaders become an act of sedition? It is very clear that the current government is trying to stifle dissent," Siddaramaiah said.
Bengaluru Rural MP DK Suresh accused the BJP of trying to curb people from protesting in order to cover up the party's "intent to divide people on the basis of religion."
"BJP does not want people to openly show that they are not happy with the government because BJP is diving people in the country on the basis of religion. First they imposed section 144 in Karnataka to stop protests, then they resorted to firing at protesters in Mangaluru and now they have filed a sedition case against innocent people and have subjected small children to interrogation. It is clear that the government is misusing the police force," DK Suresh added.
The management of Shaheen Primary and High School in Bidar were charged with sedition over a play that was staged by students of classes 4, 5 and 6 on January 21. The play spoke against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Nazbunnisa, the mother of a student, and Fareeda Begum, the head mistress of the schoolâ€™s primary department, were arrested on January 30. Students aged between 9 and 12 years were interrogated by the police within the schoolâ€™s premises. Several activists and lawyers had alleged police excess and accused the Bidar police of violating laws including the Juvenile Justice Act.
On December 19, Section 144 was imposed in Karnataka following which massive protests broke out in several districts. However, the protests in Mangaluru turned violent after police resorted to lathicharge. Police also fired shots at the protesters, which killed two people. The police also threw tear gas shells into the Highland Hospital.
With PTI inputs