New Delhi: The situation at an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) gathering in Bengaluru went awry after a young woman on stage shouted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. The woman, identified as Amulya Leona, also shouted ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ before the microphone was taken away from her. Also present at the rally was All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who took strong exception to her slogan on Pakistan.
The woman was soon taken into custody, with the police eventually saying they have slapped a sedition case against her.
According to ANI, Leona has been sent to judicial custody for three days. Besides section 124 (a) of the Indian Penal Code (sedition), the Bengaluru police have also booked her under sections 153 A and B of the IPC for (promoting enmity between different groups and imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration).
Even while protesters have had a difficult time securing permissions to protest in Karnataka, the state has seen several small and big groups raising their voice against the CAA and two other impending exercise, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). Some protests, like the one organised in Mangaluru on December 19, had become violent after the police opened fire on the protesters and lathi-charged them.
The video of the Bangalore protest rally, organised under the banner “Save Constitution”, where Leona was invited to speak has since gone viral. She can be seen raising the ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan twice, even as Owaisi rushed towards her to snatch the microphone away from her hands. Several other persons present on the stage, all men, also can be seen charging towards her. The police soon joined the men on the stage and Leona was taken into custody even as she said ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ five times.
Later, even as the commotion continued, the young woman tried to address the gathering and explain the wider point she wanted to make but was taken away before that.
Several protesters in Bengaluru said that Leona is a student and also a regular at the protests. Her speeches, some said, have always been nuanced, urging people not to hate any country because of political reasons.
This is a disturbing mob attack on a young woman who was clearly trying to say that loving Hindustan doesn’t mean hating Pakistan. @asadowaisi your muscle handed this girl over to cops, but you won’t do anything to @warispathan for communalising Shaheen Bagh? You stand exposed. https://t.co/8I0hh9wiqB
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) February 20, 2020
In one of her Facebook posts on February 16, Leona writes in Kannada, “Be it any country, Zindabad to all nations.” In the post, she has also hailed India and its neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.
Context for Amulya’s words: her Feb 16 FB post in Kannada (see rough English translation) @asadowaisi it’s outrageous that @aimim_national whose leader @warispathan harms Shaheen Bagh by showing it as anti Hindu instead of pro Constitution, shd muscle this girl off to the cops pic.twitter.com/c0zS528fLs
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) February 20, 2020
Owaisi, who addressed the gathering later, said he did not agree with the woman. Describing her as “so-called liberal”, Owaisi asked all liberals “to refrain from any events involving Muslims”.
“Neither I nor my party has any link with her. We denounce her. The organisers should not have invited her here. If I had known this, I would not have come here. We are for India and we no way support our enemy nation Pakistan. Our entire drive is to save India,” the AIMIM MP said.
“The law [CAA] is aimed at making Muslims stateless,” he added.
“If they (liberals) were so concerned about the Muslims and CAA, they should have their own Shaheen Bagh kind of protests,” Owaisi had said, alleging that the amended citizenship law “smacked of the government’s hatred” towards Muslims and was against the poor.
According to The Hindu, several BJP supporters gathered outside Leona’s house at Gullagadde near Koppa on Thursday night. Her father said that the incident, which left window panes and doors damaged, took place at around 7:30 pm. “They are all BJP supporters. They were in a group. I have complained to the police with the names of a few who led the group,” he told the newspaper.
According to the report, Leona’s father, Wazi, is opposed to her statement and said that he will not make any efforts to secure her bail.
Wazi, who has been an active political activist, has also worked for the BJP in the past.
Incidentally, Leona is not the first to chant ‘Pakistan zindabad’ in public. The chant has precedence in Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who in the presence of Pakistani religious leader Mufti Maulana Muhammad Saeed Khan at his World Cultural Festival in 2016, had said, “Jai Hind aur Pakistan Zindabad saath saath chalein (‘Long live India and long live Pakistan should go hand in hand’).”
A video of the day was uploaded by Scroll and can be found here.
Waris Pathan’s controversial comments
Even as Owaisi criticised Leona and those of ‘liberals’ for participating in the anti-CAA protest, his party leader Waris Pathan made a controversial statement at a gathering in Kalaburagi in North Karnataka on February 16. According to a report by news agency PTI, Pathan had reportedly said that “15 crore Muslims can prove to a burden (‘bhaari padhna‘) on the other 100 crore”.
“We have to move together. We have to take aazadi (freedom), things that we don’t get by asking, we have to take it by force, remember it,” the AIMIM leader can be heard saying in Hindi.