A school in Karnataka’s Bidar had its children stage a play against Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC. The fallout: A case of sedition slapped against the Shaheen Primary and High School in Bidar district, the headmistress and the mother of a child who had said, “hit those people with a chappal” in the play. The two women were arrested after a bunch of students were questioned twice by police officials. On Saturday, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi met the two women, who are currently lodged in a prison in Bidar.
“Nazbunnisa (the mother of the child) is a widow. She told me that her daughter is alone in the house and the landlord was looking after her. She was clearly in pain and wanted to come out of jail quickly. The head mistress of the school- Fareeda Begum- told me that her BP shot up and she was unwell and was administered glucose in the jail,” Owaisi said.
Owaisis said that the women pleaded with him to get them out of jail.
“They are still in shock. They asked me how long they had to stay in jail. I met Fareeda Begum’s husband. He had tears in his eyes,” Owaisi said.
The play about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was staged on January 21. Nilesh Rakshala, an activist of the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), filed a case stating that the dialogues in the play "insulted the Prime Minister".
Owaisi also met the Bidar Superintendent of Police Nagesh DL and questioned him about whether sedition charges were slapped against the two women.
“I asked the SP why sedition was used and he said it was because the Prime Minister was criticised. I asked him if a citizen is not allowed to criticise a Prime Minister in a democracy. Also, how does this become sedition?” Owaisi said.
Owaisi meeting Bidar SP
Owaisi said that he questioned the police as to why they had not conducted a preliminary investigation before including sedition charges in the FIR. He alleged that this was a tactic to punish those who criticized the government.
“SP said that sedition charges were added because a complaint was given. He said that the remand report in court would include only section 504 intentional use of abusive or provocative language),” Owaisi said.
However, in the remand report, the police have mentioned sedition and alleged that the mother taught the child the dialogues on the Prime Minister.
“The woman will now have to go to sessions court to get bail and this will be difficult. Using sedition is a way of punishing people who criticize the government,” Owaisi told TNM.
Owaisi also said that the police questioning the children was uncalled for. Till Saturday, students of the school have been questioned thrice.
Police questioning the children
“The chappal line which was found objectionable was not something which was taught to them. The children said it extempore. It was not part of the play. The sky is not going to fall for it,” Owaisi said, while adding, “What is it that the children did? What crime have they done that this sort of reaction has been there from the department that the officers had to interrogate children? Do you know what psychological impact it can have on the children?”
He said that police officials must be doubly cautious and unbiased when political elements or parties file complaints.
“When sedition charge is filed, one suffers in jail for a long time. It becomes almost impossible to prove in the court as the burden of proof is so high. Not everyone has the financial capability to approach high court, afford a good lawyer, and fight the case. He or she would be languishing in jail unless the HC hears the matter. It is to teach them a lesson. They are using sedition to silence people,” he added.