Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah was detained on Saturday as party leaders tried to take out a march to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s residence in Bengaluru to protest against the Bidar sedition case.
Karnataka Congress leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao, Rizwan Arshad and K Suresh were also detained by the cops near Race Course road.
Rao and Bangalore Rural MP D K 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.
The march, which began from Gandhi statue on Race Course Road, led to a traffic pile-up.
State Congress had organised the protest over sedition case filed against a Bidar school and arrest of a parent and the headmistress (now on bail) for their alleged involvement in staging a drama portraying Prime Minister Narendra Modi in poor light in connection with the (Citizenship Amendment Act) and NRC (National Register of Citizens).
The principal opposition party in the state alleged misuse of the police department by the state government to book cases against those opposing BJP and its “divisive policies”.
As he was being detained, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah termed the police action as undemocratic.
“Police have no right to suppress or take away our rights,” he said.
The Congress had planned to lay siege to Chief Ministers office as law was being violated across the state and false cases were being filed for sedition against political opponents, especially from Congress and those opposing the CAA and NRC, Siddaramaiah said.
Despite BJP activists using “filthy language and making anti-national comments”, no cases were filed against them.
He alleged that BJP was trying to suppress Congress, using the police, and pointed out that cases have been booked against its leader U T Khader and a student from Mysuru for opposing CAA and NRC, while no cases have been filed against ruling party leaders like Somashekara Reddy and Anant Kumar Hegde for allegedly making inflammatory speeches.
On Friday, a Karnataka court ordered that the mother of an 11-year-old student and the headmistress of a private school in Bidar, who were arrested on January 30 over an anti-CAA play staged in the school, be released on conditional bail.
The women were arrested after ABVP activist Nilesh Rakshyal filed a police complaint alleging the students were used to promote anti-national sentiments and some children spoke of hitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi with slippers to depict opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The play was held on January 21 as part of annual day celebrations.
The activist said in his complaint that he saw a video of the play enacted by students of the school on the social media account of a journalist.
The police in Bidar registered a complaint of sedition and breach of peace following the complaint. Besides the two women, the police also booked the management of the school and journalist Mohammed Yousuf Raheem on whose social media page the complainant found the video. Police said that the mother of the Class V student added dialogues that were not part of the original script for the play and that the child uttered unconstitutional words.
During the investigation, the police questioned dozens of children at the school and have been accused of violation of child rights by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
This is not the first incident of arbitrary slapping of sedition charges on anyone who speaks against CAA. Two weeks ago, Siraj Bisaralli, a Kannada poet and writer has been booked for reciting a poem against CAA and NRC at a poet meet during the ´Anegundi Utsav´in Gangavathi town of Koppal district some days ago. The poem asks questions like “will the prime minister Modi will furnish his records for the CAA”.