Amnesty India faces sedition charges for ‘anti-India’ slogans
After Kashmir separatists raised anti-India slogans at an event organised by Amnesty International India in Bengaluru on Saturday for displaced Kashmiris, a case of sedition was filed against unnamed members of the organisation in Bengaluru’s JC Nagar Police station on Monday.
The India unit of the international human rights organisation was for raising anti-India slogans at an event it organised here last week, police said.
A case of sedition and rioting has been booked on Monday under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Amnesty on a complaint that anti-India slogans were raised at its event here on August 13, a police official told IANS.
The charges, including sedition, rioting, an unlawful assembly and promoting enmity were mentioned in the FIR (first information report) police filed on Monday, two days after the RSS-affiliate ABVP lodged the complaint with audio-video evidence on August 13 and protested against Amnesty on Sunday at the venue (United Theological College) in the city centre where the event was held.
“We are investigating the complaint and checking the video to ascertain the charges and identify those who raised the slogans for culpability,” the official said but declined to elaborate.
The sedition charge under Section 124A of the IPC amounts to an attempt to cause hatred or contempt or excite disaffection towards the government of India.
The 90-minute event was held to interact with some Kashmiri families who were victims of alleged human rights violations in the strife-torn Valley and hear their struggle for justice.
The case, however, did not name any individual or member of the organisation, but implicated Amensty India for holding the event and allegedly allowing slogans to be raised against the country and the Indian Army.
Claiming that they were yet to receive a copy of the FIR, Amnesty executive director Aakar Patel regretted that organising an event to defend constitutional values was being branded ‘anti-national’ and a criminal act.
“As the police were informed about the event in advance, they were present at the venue. Registering a case of sedition on a complaint against us shows a lack of belief in fundamental rights and freedom in the country,” Patel said in a statement after police filed the FIR.
Admitting that some persons at the event had raised slogans, some of which referred to calls for ‘azaadi’ (freedom), Amnesty India programmes director Tara Rao said on Sunday it was important that the conduct of some should not distract attention from the denial of truth and justice to those who have suffered in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Among those who spoke at the event were the family of Shahzad Ahmad Khan, one of the men killed in the Macchil extra-judicial execution, where five Army personnel were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment,” Amnesty said in the statement.
A representative of the Kashmiri Pandit community in the city, who was invited to attend the event, also spoke on the occasion about the ‘human rights violations’ in the Valley.
BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Mysuru Pratap Simha was dismayed that the police had allowed such an event and lamented that the state intelligence agency was unaware of it in advance or later.
“The state government should order an inquiry into the event where pro-azaadi and anti-national elements from Kashmir participated,” Simha said on Sunday.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists, some of whom were present at the event, alleged that a group of Kashmiri youth raised slogans claiming atrocities by the Indian Army.