Police drop sedition case against writer after national anthem insult charge
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan directed the state police chief on Tuesday to drop sedition charges against Malayalam writer Kamal C Chavara and activist C Nadir after their arrest invited widespread criticism from many quarters including the ruling party.india Updated: Dec 20, 2016 16:30 IST
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan directed the state police chief on Tuesday to drop sedition charges against Malayalam writer Kamal C Chavara and activist C Nadir after their arrest invited widespread criticism from many quarters including the ruling party.
The CM also instructed the director general of police Loknath Behra to slap charges of sedition only after deliberating on a particular incident.
Chavara, who is also a theatre activist,was arrested and charged with seditionon Sunday for allegedly insulting the national anthem on Facebook. The Bhartiya Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had filed a complaint against Chavara, citing his post on the social media website.
“In a school in Kerala there were 44 students named after the state’s 44 rivers that had dried up. The teacher never bothered to heed requests of students, including their wish to go to the washroom. At 4 pm every day they had to stand up for the national anthem. Since urinating was more important to me than Jana Gana Mana, I was the most indisciplined student,” he wrote on Facebook.
He was kept in a police lock-up for several hours until he was granted bail. Nadir, who came the next day to help Chavara at the hospital, was rounded up citing an old case.
The writer is on fast demanding the withdrawal of both cases.
Human rights campaigners and social activists criticised the arrests, alleging that there is a growing intolerance against people who raise questions and sought to view things rationally. They alleged that the police acted swiftly after a complaint filed by the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha.
After Marxist veteran VS Achuthanandan, party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also criticised the police.
“The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act should not be slapped on people who are raising political and social issues. Some police officers are working against the policies of the government to portray it in a bad light,” Balakrishnan said.
The CPI, a partner in the ruling coalition, also slammed the police action.
“Such actions will strengthen people’s belief that the state is moving to fascism,” VS Achuthanandan said criticising the police.
Achuthanandan said Dalits, artists, writers, Adivasis and marginalised people have been living fearlessly in Kerala and it’s the police’s duty to prevent them from meeting the fate of rationalists MM Kalburgi of Karnataka and Govind Pansare of Maharashtra, who were murdered for their views.
Chavara was planning to move the court for anticipatory bail while he was arrested.
Earlier this month, six people were arrested for not standing up when the national anthem was played before the screening of a film at the International Film Festival (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram.
Last month, the Supreme Court asked all cinemas to play the national anthem before a film is screened, a controversial decision that many say will embolden right-wing Hindu groups pushing a strident brand of nationalism.