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Illegal and inhuman: Child rights groups condemn Bidar police’s investigation of children

They condemned the interrogation of children and the charges of sedition slapped on parent and authorities

Sabrangindia 06 Feb 2020

bidar school

Calling the interrogation of children of Shaheen School, Bidar, a blatant violation of the Juvenile Justice Act (2015), child rights groups, teachers and educationists have issued a statement against the illegal and inhumane actions of the Bidar police causing trauma to the children.

On January 21, 2020, the students of Shaheen School enacted a play in which lines allegedly against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) were spoken. A complaint was filed by an ABVP activist on the basis of a video of the play. In the complaint, the school, and a person who shared the video on Facebook have been accused of spreading lies about CAA, NRC and NPR; encouraging seditious thoughts; and making students say that they would ‘beat the PM with chappals’. Each of these statements are false, even going by the video recording of the play that went viral on social media. The FIR has been lodged under sections of the Indian Penal Code for ‘Insult intended to provoke breach of the peace’, ‘Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between Classes’, ‘Sedition’, and ’Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion’.

In the incident, the police have repeatedly interrogated the children of the school, some as young as nine, not allowing the parents to be present during the questioning. The Head Teacher of the primary section and widowed mother of a student who was part of the play, were arrested on January 30.

The statement by the children rights group, teachers and educationists reads, “The interrogation of children goes against one of the closely held tenets of a democratic order, which is that education should be about learning to question the world around you. If we don’t see our schools as training grounds for democracy in which children learn to ask questions and express themselves without being subject to police interrogation, we are sowing the seeds of a conformist society at odds with a Constitution which promises the freedom of speech and expression to all its citizens including its children.”

The group also condemned the invocation of Section 124A of the IPC – the sedition law to arrest the teacher and a parent who were allegedly involved in the play. They say, “This is a clear misapplication of the law which is based on a failure appreciate the fact that India is governed by the Indian Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. This marks a new low in our democracy. Even Gandhiji who was himself a victim of the arbitrary use of the sedition law by the British would never have contemplated that policeman in independent India would use it against those who staged a school play, which expressed an opinion at odds with the Central government position on the CAA/NPR/NRC.

The group said that the Bidar police needed to understand that the people of India did not live in a colonial and despotic state in which staging plays (no matter how distasteful to the government in power) would be a criminal offence. They say, “There is not even the hint of violence which can incite persons to attempt to overthrow the state. The case does not fall within the framework of Section 124 A as delimited by the Supreme Court. Therefore the police must accept the play as a dissenting opinion which is not a fit case for invoking Section 124 A or other provisions of the IPC. The government must learn to tolerate if not accept opinions it may not like as that is a fundamental precept of democracy.

The child rights panel and group of teachers and educationists have demanded the immediate withdrawal of all criminal cases against the women arrested in the Shaheen School case and their immediate release, a review of the procedure – violations of child rights by the Bidar police and the repeal of Section 124A of the IPC.

Current developments in the case

The Sessions court in Bidar has been moved, asking for anticipatory bail for five members of the school management, including the institutions founder Abdul Qadeer. The court on Wednesday adjourned the case and posted the hearing for February 11, 2020.

The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has sought a report from the Bidar SP Nagesh DL with regards to the interrogation of children and also met the 11-year-old student, the daughter of the woman arrested on sedition charges.

Leader of Opposition, Siddaramaiah tweeted, condemning the action taken against the parent and school authorities and demanded their immediate release.

 

 

Related:

Cops question Bidar school kids for fourth time for allegedly offensive statement against PM Modi
Sedition charge on Karnataka school for anti-CAA skit

Illegal and inhuman: Child rights groups condemn Bidar police’s investigation of children

They condemned the interrogation of children and the charges of sedition slapped on parent and authorities

bidar school

Calling the interrogation of children of Shaheen School, Bidar, a blatant violation of the Juvenile Justice Act (2015), child rights groups, teachers and educationists have issued a statement against the illegal and inhumane actions of the Bidar police causing trauma to the children.

On January 21, 2020, the students of Shaheen School enacted a play in which lines allegedly against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) were spoken. A complaint was filed by an ABVP activist on the basis of a video of the play. In the complaint, the school, and a person who shared the video on Facebook have been accused of spreading lies about CAA, NRC and NPR; encouraging seditious thoughts; and making students say that they would ‘beat the PM with chappals’. Each of these statements are false, even going by the video recording of the play that went viral on social media. The FIR has been lodged under sections of the Indian Penal Code for ‘Insult intended to provoke breach of the peace’, ‘Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between Classes’, ‘Sedition’, and ’Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion’.

In the incident, the police have repeatedly interrogated the children of the school, some as young as nine, not allowing the parents to be present during the questioning. The Head Teacher of the primary section and widowed mother of a student who was part of the play, were arrested on January 30.

The statement by the children rights group, teachers and educationists reads, “The interrogation of children goes against one of the closely held tenets of a democratic order, which is that education should be about learning to question the world around you. If we don’t see our schools as training grounds for democracy in which children learn to ask questions and express themselves without being subject to police interrogation, we are sowing the seeds of a conformist society at odds with a Constitution which promises the freedom of speech and expression to all its citizens including its children.”

The group also condemned the invocation of Section 124A of the IPC – the sedition law to arrest the teacher and a parent who were allegedly involved in the play. They say, “This is a clear misapplication of the law which is based on a failure appreciate the fact that India is governed by the Indian Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. This marks a new low in our democracy. Even Gandhiji who was himself a victim of the arbitrary use of the sedition law by the British would never have contemplated that policeman in independent India would use it against those who staged a school play, which expressed an opinion at odds with the Central government position on the CAA/NPR/NRC.

The group said that the Bidar police needed to understand that the people of India did not live in a colonial and despotic state in which staging plays (no matter how distasteful to the government in power) would be a criminal offence. They say, “There is not even the hint of violence which can incite persons to attempt to overthrow the state. The case does not fall within the framework of Section 124 A as delimited by the Supreme Court. Therefore the police must accept the play as a dissenting opinion which is not a fit case for invoking Section 124 A or other provisions of the IPC. The government must learn to tolerate if not accept opinions it may not like as that is a fundamental precept of democracy.

The child rights panel and group of teachers and educationists have demanded the immediate withdrawal of all criminal cases against the women arrested in the Shaheen School case and their immediate release, a review of the procedure – violations of child rights by the Bidar police and the repeal of Section 124A of the IPC.

Current developments in the case

The Sessions court in Bidar has been moved, asking for anticipatory bail for five members of the school management, including the institutions founder Abdul Qadeer. The court on Wednesday adjourned the case and posted the hearing for February 11, 2020.

The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has sought a report from the Bidar SP Nagesh DL with regards to the interrogation of children and also met the 11-year-old student, the daughter of the woman arrested on sedition charges.

Leader of Opposition, Siddaramaiah tweeted, condemning the action taken against the parent and school authorities and demanded their immediate release.

 

 

Related:

Cops question Bidar school kids for fourth time for allegedly offensive statement against PM Modi
Sedition charge on Karnataka school for anti-CAA skit

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