Father Of Kerala Boy, Accused Of Hate Speech At Rally, Detained

The police said the family of the boy went into hiding in Kerala's Kochi following the controversy

A video of the 11-year-old boy raising allegedly provocative slogans had gone viral

The father of a Kerala boy who allegedly raised "hate" slogans at a Popular Front of India, or PFI, rally last week has been detained. Twenty people have been arrested so far in the case.

A video of the 11-year-old boy sitting on the shoulder of a man during the rally held by PFI on May 21 and raising allegedly provocative slogans against Hindus and Christians was shared widely on social media.

The police said the family of the boy went into hiding in Kerala's Kochi following the controversy. The boy was traced by the police two days after the rally, while his father was detained today while he was returning home to Alappuzha.

The Kerala government is likely to file a report involving the boy to the Child Welfare Committee.

The boy's father claimed they had chanted the same slogans in the past in connection with the protests against the National Register of Citizens, or NRC, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, also known as the CAA.

"We have chanted the same slogans in the past. And we did not intend to target any religion. It's a part of our party activity," said the boy's father.

When reporters asked the boy who taught him the slogan, he said, "When I went for NRC programme, I heard it there and learnt it by heart."

The boy's father, a PFI member, added, ""The slogan was only against Sangh Parivar and not against Hindus or Christians. This slogan was chanted during the NRC and CAA protests too."

Mattancherry Assistant Commissioner of Police VG Raveendranath said child welfare officials have been asked to provide counselling to the child who chanted the alleged hate slogans.

Hours before the PFI rally on May 21, Bajrang Dal workers took out a "shaurya rally" in Alappuzha, raising slogans that "the country cannot be handed over to anti-nationals and communalists."

Last year, Alappuzha saw back-to-back killings of a state leader of the Social Democratic Party of India, the political wing of the PFI, and a state BJP leader within 12 hours.

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