More and more voices are being raised against police action in Bidar in north Karnataka - where sedition charges were filed against a school management - and the mother of a student and the head teacher were arrested for a school play critical of the contentious citizenship law. Concerned citizens of Bengaluru gathered at the state's police headquarters on Nrupathunga Road to raise questions and try to get answers from the police.
One law student said, "Students from this age group are not supposed to be interrogated for so long or for so many days together. I was quite surprised by the action of the Bidar police. This is not a protest. We just have some questions for the police."
One man said, "I have come here as a parent, I have a 10 year-old-girl. I was wondering, if God forbid, she was in that position what would happen to her? It is like mental molestation of children and it will take a long time for them to come out of it."
Veteran theatre personality, Prasanna, was also part of the gathering. He told NDTV, "These are bad times. You don't treat children as Muslim or Hindu. You don't discriminate. It is hurting to a Hindu, I am a Hindu. The government should realise that Hindutva is becoming too angry and getting isolated from the Hindus. This is not done."
A lawyer who was present, said, "They are anti one particular community. They are targeting the vulnerable classes."
Congress leaders in the state had also approached the state's police chief on the issue.
After meeting the Director General and the Inspector General of Police, Praveen Sood, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dinesh Gundu Rao said, "Whether this was liable for any police action was a big question mark. The second question mark is the alacrity with which the police have acted and the use of the sedition law. It shows there was some undue influence on the police to take strict action against this institution. Because it is a minority owned institution... And a community is being targeted - the use of laws to subjugate them and silence the opposition. But Ananth Kumar Hegde can say anything he wants..."
Former Speaker, Ramesh Kumar of the Congress said, "They have gone to school, five times in a week, they interrogated the children. We explained everything to the DG Police. He had all the patience in the world. He agrees with us that this is not the right thing. He said he will get it examined by senior officers. We told him police should not get politicised. If the police become the agent of the party in power, there will be nobody to whom you can go when you are in distress?'
Veteran Congress leader Margaret Alva wrote to chief minister B S Yediyurappa, saying she was shocked and pained to see his silence at the event unfolding in a school in Bidar.
In Bidar, the Child Welfare Committee issued a notice to the police over the investigation and the questioning of children. They said they were also was also making sure of the welfare of the child whose mother had been arrested. The bail plea of the mother and the head teacher of the school will be heard only next week.
The play was staged in the school run by the Shaheen Group of Institutions by students of Class 4, 5 and 6 on January 21. Five days later, the school was charged by the police with sedition over remarks allegedly made against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The school play caught the attention of the police when a clip of the event was circulated online. The police claim they received a complaint against the play and filed a case.