Bengaluru: A team of three lawyers from Bengaluru who had gone to Dharwad in north Karnataka to represent three Kashmiri students charged with sedition was heckled, shouted at and threatened on Monday. Their vehicles were also damaged when they reached the court.
The lawyers had to return to Bengaluru as they were unable to file the bail applications on behalf of their clients after disruptions inside and outside the court.
The Bengaluru-based lawyers, who were taken amid heavy security to the Dharwad court, came under attack and had to be taken away in the afternoon to the government's Inspection Bungalow. Lawyers' groups held a demonstration against them near the court, while local right-wing activists shouted slogans of 'Go Back' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai.'
A lawyer who was part of the team said they went to Hubli to collect a copy of the FIR and other documents, which they were able to do. They also met the president and secretary of the Hubli Bar Association to give their representation about a boycott call given by the lawyers' body and their stand on it.
When they went to Dharwad court where they had to file for bail for their clients, there were major disruptions, forcing them to return empty-handed.
The incident happened despite deployment of heavy security to protect the lawyers from such attacks — the Karnataka High Court had earlier issued an order in this regard. The court had also slammed the Hubli Bar Association for passing a resolution that none of its members would represent or defend the students in court.
The students were charged with sedition for allegedly uploading a ‘pro-Pakistan’ video on a messaging app. The three, who were studying at an engineering college in Hubli, were arrested on February 15 for a video they had shared on social media in which they were heard chanting slogans of 'azadi' and 'Pakistan Zindabad'.
The students had uploaded the video as a mark of protest on February 14, in the backdrop of the commemorative events held in different parts of the country to mark the anniversary of a suicide attack in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF jawans.
After a few right-wing activists complained, the students were suspended by the college authorities.
Soon after, Hubli lawyers decided against representing the students in the case. This is the second instance in Karnataka in which district-level bar associations have asked their members to not defend an "anti-national". The Mysore Bar Association had earlier passed a similar resolution about another case of a girl carrying a 'Free Kashmir' placard at a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
While hearing a case on the boycott, the High Court had said, “How can the bar association pass such a resolution? By doing this, they are obstructing court work. Are they carrying out a mini-trial by themselves?"