The school’s headmistress, Fareeda Begum, also held on sedition charges, was released from jail a day after the two were granted bail. (Express Photo: Sreenivas Janyala)
WHILE GRANTING bail in the sedition case filed over a school play in Bidar town of Karnataka, the Bidar district and sessions court observed that the play — staged by children aged nine to 12 years — did not refer to any community other than Muslims, and was enacted to oppose the enforcement of a law.
Najibunnisa (46), the mother of a Class V student, and Fareeda Begum (50), the headmistress of Shaheen Primary School, were released after 15 days of incarceration over a play staged by children to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Act on January 21.
Ordering their conditional release on February 14, Bidar District Judge Managoli Premavathi observed: “The drama shows that the children have condemned enforcement of laws. There is no other community named in the drama and all they have stated is that Muslims will have to leave the country’’.
Following a complaint filed by a local ABVP activist, Nilesh Rakshyal, on January 26, the two women were arrested on January 30. The Bidar police invoked clauses relating to offences of sedition, promoting enmity between groups and breach of peace.
In its bail order, the court observed that the two women had not been named in the original FIR registered in the case.
“On perusal of the remand memo, it is found that, after registration of the crime, the Investigating Officer enquired with the children and they allegedly revealed that accused/ Petitioner No.1 (the headmistress) directed the children” to enact the drama, it said. The questioning of a child who “spoke derogatory words of using a chappal against Prime Minister Narendra Modi” revealed that her mother (Najibunnisa) instructed her to use these words, the court said, citing police investigations.
“The words uttered by the children during the drama make out that they protested against enforcement of laws,’’ the court said.
During the bail hearing, the advocates who appeared for the two women argued that “every citizen of the country has got the right to oppose a law intended to be brought into force and this cannot be treated as sedition’’. Further, since “there is no reference of any other community, there is no question of causing disharmony between communities’’, they had said.
The public prosecutor said the women abetted sedition, and the crimes of causing enmity between groups and breach of peace, by getting children to enact a drama using derogatory words against the Prime Minister and sending out a message that “enforcement of CAA, NRC, NPR laws would compel Muslims to leave the country...’’