Karnataka police is extremely busy over the last four to five days with a major probe, entering a school in Bidar, northern Karnataka and interrogating students studying in fourth and fifth standards. Their crime: in the play they staged at the school anniversary they found fault with the prime minister of the country. It also says how the citizenship law will put to difficulty the Muslim minority of the country. They also recite the poem by Varun Grover titled 'ham kaagaz nahin dikhayenge' (We will not show documents).
The case against them was registered following complaint filed by a man after watching a video shots of the play. Based on this play, grave charges like sedition, spreading hatred and inciting communal disaffection have been registered against the school authorities in the name of this drama. The school authorities are now in an attempt to obtain anticipatory bail. And parents are anxious that they will have to look for another school in the next academic year.
Rewind to a not too distant past. Last December, at the anniversary celebration of another school in Karnataka, a play had been staged. The theme was a reproduction of the saffron brigade demolishing the Babri Masjid in violation of Indian constitution, and against assurances given in the Supreme Court. And the reproduction in the presence of 3,800 students, and chanting the same slogans which had been raised by the sangh parivar leaders on 6 December 1992. The guests of honour at the event were union minister DV Sadananda Gowda and Puduchery Governor Kiran Bedi. Based on a complaint lodged by one, following online media releasing the scenes of the play, thepolic had filed a case against four office-bearers of the school. But until this day, no policeman has entered that school compound with an allegation that it had indulged in an act hurting any religious sentiments; no student was summoned or questioned in connection with that play.
The difference between the two schools is that the play against the citizenship law was staged in a school run by Muslim mnagement, and the one that reproduced the Babari demolition in an RSS-controlled institution aided by government funds. The police of Karnataka which has the dubious reputation of having nabbed a few mediapersons from Kerala – who had gone there to report the incidents of shooting protesters against CAA – saying they had come carrying arms. The jounalists were then subjected to human rights denial on the pretext of questioning. The double standards of the same police became all too evident through the different approaches in two schools which showed in what partisan manner they were 'enforcing law'.
Karnataka, like UP and Gujarat, has thus been made the fertile soil to sow the deadly seeds developed in the sangh parivar labs and to harvest it. And all this is accomplished by misusing public funds and government machinery. The government has been handling as enemies not only the little children staging a play against the citizenship law, but everybody who protested against it. That was quite in evidence in the manner of arresting many including the reputed historian Ramachandra Guha who protested against the law, holding a picture of Dr BR Ambedkar, architect of Indian constitution. The same method was seen being used in the threats made against protesting youths.
One among us had presciently identified, and cautioned against this communal terrorist transformation; the brave journalist Gauri Lankesh. The forces who recognised that her words of truth would sabotage their bids, and the same force as those that took the life of Father of the Nation, Mahtma Gandhi, took her life too piercing gunshots through her. It is natural then that the same zeal shown in hunting down the children who staged the play, would not drive them in catching Gauri's murderers. Wednesday was the 58th birth anniversary of Gauri Lankesh. And today is the 72nd anniversary of Gandhiji's martyrdom. This is a time when the nation has to move forward paying heed to the warnings they gave; also the time to isolate the forces that ended their lives. We need to prove that the martyrdom of brave souls will not go in vain.