Acting on a complaint by the ABVP filed on Saturday, police has charged Amnesty International India under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code

The city police has filed cases of sedition on Monday against the organisers of a programme, held two days ago, that sought to project the human suffering of the Kashmir conflict.

Acting on a complaint by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) filed on Saturday, the J.C. Nagar police has charged Amnesty International India under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which defines sedition as brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government of India.

Unnamed representatives of the non-government organisation have also been booked under Section 142,143, 147, 149 (unlawful assembly and rioting) and Section 153a (promoting enmity between groups).

A senior police official said the police were investigating the veracity of the complaint and would fix culpability based on videos taken from the event.

Saturday’s event — which signalled the start of Amnesty International India’s Broken Families campaign — had seen tempers run high between groups of persons over the narratives of Indian Army. The programme had ended with groups breaking into pro-India and pro-Kashmir independence sloganeering.

City caught in Valley wildfire
An activist of the nationalist students’ organisation smears black paint on the UTC name board
ABVP members protested at the UTC on Miller’s Road demanding action against those who raised anti-India slogans during an event organised there by Amnesty International IndiaMembers of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad gathered in hundreds in front of United Theological College on Miller’s Road on Sunday and staged a protest demanding action against some people who participated in a programme organised by Amnesty International and raised anti-India slogans. Around 30 ABVP members who attempted to deface the UTC name board were taken into police custody.

Secretary of the ABVP state wing Basavesh Kumar said they had nothing against the organisers of the event. “But our party workers who attended the programme, were hurt when a section of people in the audience started chanting anti-India slogans during the event. We are hurt that terrorists are hailed as heroes, and demand that they be traced and booked under sedition charges,” he said.

The slogan shouting allegedly took place on Saturday during an event organised by Amnesty International India in the UTC campus as part of a campaign to seek justice for victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. The event then took an ugly turn when a senior journalist praised the Indian Army and a section of pro-freedom Kashmiris in the audience launched a scathing verbal attack on him.

Meanwhile, through an email, Amnesty International has stated that the event involved discussions with families from Kashmir – featured in Amnesty International India’s report ‘Denied’ from July 2015 – who had travelled to Bengaluru to narrate their personal stories of grief and loss. Amnesty International India also invited representation from the Kashmiri Pundit community in Bengaluru to speak about human rights violations of members of their community.

Towards the end of the event, some people raised slogans, some of which referred to a call for ‘azaadi’ (freedom), triggering discontent among a section of the audience.
“It is important that media attention to the conduct of some of those who attended the event not serve as a distraction from the important issues of the denial of truth and justice to those who have suffered in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Tara Rao, program-mes director, Amnesty International India.

Clearing its stand Amnesty International India said that as a matter of policy it does not take any position in favour of or against demands for self-determination.

However, Amnesty International India considers that the right to freedom of expression under international human rights law protects the right to peacefully advocate political solutions that do not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

The Supreme Court has ruled that expression can be restricted on grounds of public order only when it involves incitement to imminent violence or disorder. India’s archaic sedition law has been used to harass and persecute activists and others for their peaceful exercise of their right to free expression.

Among those who spoke at the event were the family of Shahzad Ahmad Khan, one of the men killed in the Macchil extrajudicial execution, where five Army personnel were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Bengaluru Police were informed about the event well in advance. Amnesty International India also invited representation from the Kashmiri Pandit community in Bengaluru at the event to speak about the human rights violations faced by members of the community.

Towards the end of the event, some of those who attended raised slogans, some of which referred to calls for ‘Azaadi’ (freedom).

. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code defines sedition as any act or attempt “to bring into hatred or contempt, or…excite disaffection towards the government.” Mahatma Gandhi had called the law “the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.

On the other hand, the ABVP state office secretary said that the state government should immediately arrest participants who violated the law of the land, and strict action be taken against the college management that organised the programme.