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Mysuru Students Charged with Sedition for Carrying 'Free Kashmir' Placard at JNU Solidarity Rally

The placard-carrying student, who is yet to be identified, was taking part in a procession on the Mysore University campus organised by the Dalit Students' Association and the Mysore University Research Students' Association.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:January 9, 2020, 8:21 PM IST
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Mysuru Students Charged with Sedition for Carrying 'Free Kashmir' Placard at JNU Solidarity Rally
File image of JNU students protesting.

Bengaluru: Days after the appearance of a 'Free Kashmir' poster at a Mumbai rally caused controversy, a number of protesters in Mysuru were booked for sedition after one of them was seen carrying a similar placard at a rally in support of students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

The student carrying the placard, who is yet to be identified, was participating in a flame-torch-bearing procession on the Mysore University campus organised by the Dalit Students' Association and the Mysore University Research Students' Association on Wednesday evening.

The associations were issued a notice by the varsity registrar after the matter blew up when local media found a video displaying the placard. Until then, it was just another protest in solidarity with the JNU Students' Union. It soon snowballed into a controversy, with the Left-leaning Students' Federation of India (SFI), one of the protest organisers, being accused of dividing the nation.

"What do you mean by 'Free Kashmir'? It is something we have been facing in this country for the past 72 years, we cannot continue to suffer these kinds of issues," said Karnataka Higher Education Minister CN Ashwathnarayana. "We need to send a clear-cut message that these kinds of disruptors cannot be entertained."

Police Commisisoner KT Balakrisna said a suo motu case was taken up against the organisers of the protest, under Section 124A (sedition) and Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The FIR names "Maridevaiah and unknown others" as the accused, and an investigation is on to identify the student.

Ironically, the prompt police action in Mysuru was in contrast to the lacklustre action at a prominent women's college in Bengaluru where BJP workers tried to forcibly put up a banner on the college wall to support the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The BJP workers visited the Jyoti Nivas College in Koramangala and asked students to sign the banner in support. When a few students tried to ask them why the banner was put up without consulting the college authorities, they were allegedly heckled. Vidoes of an exchange where the BJP workers were seen aggressively asking students if they were selfish or cared about the nation went viral on social media.

"There was an altercation, mostly because students questioned how a banner was put up without permission. When the Sisters tried to talk to the party workers, the matter escalated, but since the safety of students is a priority, they (sisters) asked the cops around to intervene. The police dispersed everyone and even the Pro-CAA supporters took down the banner and left," said a college staffer who was witness to the event.

DCP South East Isha Pant, under whose jurisdiction the college premises fall, said there was no formal complaint lodged by the college and adequate security has been provide around the campus.

Congress MLA from the area, Ramlinga Reddy, who visited the college on Thursday, said, "BJP workers could have chosen any other premise in my constituency, coming to a college and terrorizing students is not right, they have the right to campaign, but this is not right".

Meanwhile, ​students from the college held a silent gathering within the premises against the incident that unfolded a day earlier, as they weren't given permission by the management to hold a protest.

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