No let-up in anti-Amnesty protests by ABVP in Karnataka

Bengaluru : Akhila Bharatiya Vidharthi Parishad (ABVP) activists continued their protests across Karnataka on Wednesday, stepping up pressure on the state government to arrest Amnesty International India’s representatives and those who raised anti-India slogans at an event last week.

“Hundreds of youth, including teenage girls, staged peaceful protests in many cities like Kolar, Hubballi, Belagavi and Mangaluru across the state against Amnesty members who held the August 13 event where slogans were raised against our country and our army by some participants,” ABVP convenor Prem told reporters here.

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Continuing protest for the third day in state capital Bengaluru, about 500 ABVP activists took out a rally from the Mysore Bank circle to the Freedom Park and staged a demonstration seeking stringent action against the culprits.

“Even the city police commissioner had said that slogans like ‘humey azadi chahiye’ (we want freedom) were raised at the event where a play was enacted showing the Indian army in bad light,” Prem claimed.

Bengaluru Police Commissioner N.S. Megharikh on Tuesday night confirmed that ‘azadi’ (freedom) slogans were raised at a programme Amnesty organsied here on alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Towards the end of the programme, a group of persons who were among the audience raised slogans seeking ‘azadi’. When the situation was getting volatile, the organisers suspended the programme and the police dispersed the people gathered there,” said Megharik in a belated statement.

At Belagavi, about 500 km from here, about 300 students from various colleges formed a human chain at Basaveshwar circle and staged protest against the Amnesty and the state government.

“The state government has taken the incident lightly where anti-India and anti-army slogans were raised. People are concerned over the growing incidences of anti-national activities in the country,” ABVP General Secretary Vinay Bidare said in a statement here.

The activists also expressed concern that on the Independence Day (August 15) night, a few students, including one from Kashmir and two from Bihar, had allegedly raised anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans on a college campus at Tumakuru, about 70 km from here.

The college (Sri Siddharth Institute of Technology) is run by the brother of state Home Minister G. Parameshwara, who also hails from the neighbouring district.

Hundreds of students took out protest marches at Hubballi and Dharwad, about 400 km from here, in the state’s northern region.

“Instead of arresting the culprits, police caned our activists, arrested some and prevented us from staging peaceful protests in Bengaluru and other cities,” Prem said.

Meanwhile, Amnesty submitted another video footage to the police for investigation.

In a related development, Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said no arrests would be made pending the probe into the episode on Kashmir.

“Karnataka CM (Siddaramaiah) assured me that no arrests would be made pending investigation. Only FIR has been filed,” Singh, who is incharge of party affairs in the state, tweeted earlier in the day.

Singh said that raising slogans was not a fit case to be charged with sedition and such a law was used by the British against freedom fighters.