HC directs action against PFI over provocative slogans at Kerala rally
Disposing a plea filed by advocate Ramaraja Varma two weeks ago, seeking to ban PFI and Bajrang Dal rallies in the district, Justice Kunhikrishnan said: “The police officers will do the needful in accordance with law…With above observation, the writ petition is closed.”
The Kerala high court on Friday directed the state government to take strict action against Popular Front of India (PFI) over the highly provocative slogans that were raised at its rally in Alappuzha last week, observing that “if a member of a rally raises provocative slogans, the persons who organised the rally is also responsible”.
“How can they raise such slogans? Strict action is needed against those who raised provocative slogans and organisers of the rally. If a member of a rally raises provocative slogans, the persons who organised the rally is also responsible,” Justice P V Kunhikrishnan said.
The high court’s remarks came even as the government pleader said that it has taken the matter seriously and has made several arrests.
Disposing a plea filed by advocate Ramaraja Varma two weeks ago, seeking to ban PFI and Bajrang Dal rallies in the district, Justice Kunhikrishnan said: “The police officers will do the needful in accordance with law against all persons who are responsible for the same. With above observation, the writ petition is closed.”
The lawyer had sought a ban on PFI and Bajrang Dal rallies in view of a string of political murders in the district.
The court, however, said the permission to hold rallies was granted to both outfits under assurances that the rallies will be peaceful.
Hearing another plea on May 23, the court had expressed serious concern over use of children in such events. “These children will grow up with hatred inside them,” Justice P Gopinath had observed.
A purported viral video of the PFI’s ‘Save the Republic’ rally in coastal Alappuzha on May 21 shows a minor boy sitting on the shoulder of a person, shouting provocative slogans against other communities as others repeated in chorus. HT could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
The state child welfare commission has already sought a report from Alappuzha superintendent of police in this regard.
A senior police officer said 26 PFI activists have been arrested so far in connection with the rally and more are likely to be held in the coming days. The police registered its case three days after the rally.
While district PFI president Navas Vandanam has been named as first accused, district secretary M Mujeeb and PFI worker Ansar Najeeb, who carried the boy on his shoulders, have been named as second and third accused, respectively.
Vandanam and Najeeb have been arrested while Mujeeb is absconding.
The accused have been booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 ( conducting public mischief), among others, of Indian Penal code.
Police said the minor was identified and traced to Palluruthy in Ernakulam district. His parents are absconding.
During the course of investigation, police found that the boy was trained by his parents. The minor also allegedly raised provocative slogans during the agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Kochi two years ago, the senior officer cited above said on condition of anonymity.
The boy’s parents will also be booked in connection with the sloganeering at the PFI rally, the officer added.
In its remand report submitted before a district court, Alappuzha South station house officer S Arun said the boy was trained to raise such slogans to create rivalry between different communities. It also alleged a conspiracy in the matter and called for a thorough probe into it.
The PFI, however, claimed it was being targeted by the government. “We have already disowned these slogans. Same day Bajrang Dal workers had also carried out a rally in the city and provocative slogans were raised but no action has been taken against them… it is not fair to single out the PFI,” state secretary C A Rouf said.
PFI state president CP Muhammad Basheer on Tuesday said the slogan was against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
“The PFI’s slogan in the national campaign conducted by the PFI, grand people’s conference and rally held in Alappuzha were in accordance with the laws of the land and communal normally. We used to give out printed slogans and in this programme also, we distributed printed slogans. The programme attracted a large number of people, which was beyond the expectations of the organisers and it was a success. So the people who did not like this wanted to tarnish the PFI by picking up one particular incident that happened,” he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
“One group of people was sloganeering with a boy below 15 years. He was chanting the slogans and the slogan was basically against the RSS and against the terrorism of RSS. But one or two lines were not in accordance with the policy and the culture of PFI and democratic society. It was totally against RSS,” he said.
PFI claims it has its units in 22 states.