Police detain father of boy who shouted slogans at Kerala PFI rally: Report
Kerala PFI rally: The video of the boy - seen sitting on the shoulders of a man as he shouted the slogans - was circulated online; HT has not been able to independently verify the video.
The father of the Kerala boy who shouted provocative slogans against other communities at a rally held by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in coastal Alappuzha last week has been taken into custody, news agency PTI said Saturday evening citing an unnamed police officer. The boy and his parents were in hiding after the controversy broke; he was traced to Palluruthy in Ernakulam district and the father was tracked down today.
According to PTI the father defended his son, saying no one had taught him the slogan and that the child had learned it at earlier PFI programmes. "We used to take part in PFI programmes. He learned the slogan when he attended a protest against implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). I don't understand why it has become a controversy now. What offence did he commit to harass a little boy like this?" he said as he was arrested, PTI reported.
However, a senior officer earlier said inquiries suggested the boy had been trained by his parents.
The video of the boy - seen sitting on the shoulders of a man as he shouted the slogans - was widely circulated and triggered outrage. Police then filed a case.
Hindustan Times has not been able to independently verify the video.
The PFI has 'disowned' such slogans and has claimed it is being targeted.
PFI state president CP Muhammad Basheer earlier told PTI the Alappuzha rally was held 'in accordance with the laws'.
Police have so far arrested 26 PFI activists in connection with this case and more are being questioned. The accused have been booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (conducting public mischief), among others, of the Indian Penal code.
Police sources also told PTI the boy is likely to receive counselling at a government centre.
In hearing a plea the Kerala high 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.
Meanwhile, the court on Friday directed the state to take action against the PFI, noting 'if a member of a rally raises provocative slogans, persons who organised are 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 PV Kunhikrishnan said.
However, the court also turned down pleas to ban PFI and Bajrang Dal rallies in the state, saying, '… police officers will do the needful in accordance with law against all persons (who break the law)'.
The ban was sought in view of a string of political murders in the district.
With regard to the video, the Kerala child welfare commission has already sought a report.
With input from PTI