Kerala: Father in custody for 10-year-old’s controversial slogans
More than 20 leaders and workers of the Muslim Right-wing Popular Front of India and its political arm Social Democratic Party of India have been either arrested or taken into custody in Kerala over controversial slogans raised at a procession on May 21.
A day after Kerala High Court directed police to take strict action also against the organisers of any event where hate speeches are made, cops on Saturday took into custody the father of a 10-year-old boy who led the slogans purportedly against Right-wing elements of two other communities.
The court direction came on a petition filed by a senior citizen from Alappuzha after the Hindu Right-wing Bajrang Dal announced a counter-march in Alappuzha on May 21.
The petitioner had sought a ban on both events fearing a communal flare-up. But the court had allowed the processions after directing the district administration and the police to ensure law and order.
The slogans raised by the boy at the PFI event were a warning to rivals to keep rice and frankincense ready since the god of death was coming for them. While rice is an ingredient for Hindu last rites, frankincense is used at Christian funerals. While the boy’s father was among those who participated in the procession, a video clip showed the 10-year-old being carried on the shoulders of another man who has since been arrested for repeating the slogans.
Before being taken into custody, the boy’s father — whose identity is being withheld considering the age of the child — told reporters that his son had picked up the slogans at the protests against the Centre’s citizenship matrix. “I don’t know what the issue is now. He learned this at the protests against the CAA-NRC…. These slogans are only against the Sangh parivar and not against any religion,” he said.
Asked if he understood the meaning of the slogans, the boy replied: “I don’t know the meaning.” He told reporters that he had heard them at the anti-CAA protests.
The court, in its order on Friday, observed that it didn’t matter if such slogans were raised without the approval of the organisers, as the PFI had argued.
“If a member of a rally raises provocative slogans, the persons who organise the rally are also responsible. If a rally is conducted, it is the duty of the leaders to control the members of the rally. Whether the members of the rally raised the slogan with the knowledge of the leaders or whether there is any connivance between the leaders who organised the rally with the persons who raised provocative slogans is a matter to be investigated by the police,” the court stated in its order.
“But I make it clear that the police should investigate the matter untrammelled by any observation in this judgment. The police officers will do the needful in accordance with law against all persons who violated the law of the land,” Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan had added.
The Alappuzha police had earlier arrested PFI district president Navas Vandanam and several others in connection with the case registered on May 23. They have been booked under several penal sections including 153A (promoting enmity between different groups of people) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings).