Two women held for two weeks by police on sedition charges over a school play which allegedly criticised a contentious citizenship law have been granted bail, officials said yesterday.
Teacher Fareeda Begum, 50, and parent Nazbunnisa, 36, were arrested on January 30 for helping the children stage the play at Shaheen Public School in Karnataka.
The play depicted a worried family talking about how they feared the government would ask millions of Muslims to prove their nationality or be expelled from India.
They were detained under a British colonial-era law after a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party claimed the children insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the play.
India has been gripped by widespread street demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act that grants citizenship to religious groups from three neighbouring countries, but excludes Muslims.
Nearly 30 people died in the months-long protests, including two in Karnataka, which is ruled by the BJP.
The women were denied bail multiple times before a court set them free late Saturday on a personal bond of Rs100,000 each.
“The accused have been released on bail but we will continue with our investigations,” an officer said.
Officers visited the school at least five times to quiz children about the play and gather evidence against the accused.
Critics accuse the police of misusing the law amid a public outcry and several protests after videos showing officers interrogating the children – aged between nine and 11 years – went viral on social media.
The citizenship law, combined with a mooted National Register of Citizens, has stoked fears that India’s 200mn Muslims will be marginalised.
Meanwhile, a peaceful protest in a park in Bengaluru by about 100 women against the CAA and NRC entered its second week yesterday, police said.
“The protest at Bilal Bagh has been going on peacefully since a week. About 50 more joined them on the weekend as they were free from other work,” Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police Sharanappa said.
“Just attended an inspirational peaceful protest against CAA/NRC at Bilal Bagh, off Tannery Road in Bengaluru. It is now in its second week,” tweeted noted historian Ramachandra Guha after visiting the place yesterday.
Though the number of protesters has been far less compared to hundreds of their counterparts at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, the women have been drawing attention of the authorities and the media, as they are present round-the-clock, with about 50 of them staging the demo in turns.
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