India

After 114 days in jail, Bengaluru teen who chanted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ on stage granted bail in sedition case

19-year-old Amulya was earlier denied bail by the court stating ‘she may abscond’ if released 

As a message for harmony, Amulya had chanted ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ immediately after, but her mic had teen taken away

Bengaluru: Last night, after four months and a string of petitions before the lower courts and Bangalore high court, a lower court in the city granted a “default bail” to Amulya Leona Noronha who raised the slogan of ‘Pakistan zindabad’ at an anti-CAA-NRC rally on February 20.

The order came two days later afterthe bail plea of the 19-year-old college student was rejected by the Bengaluru court on Wednesday, stating that she may ‘abscond if she is released’, as reported by the Indian Express.

The metropolitan magistrate court granted her a “default bail” since Bengaluru police had failed to file charge sheet in the case within the mandated 90 days period.

Amulya Leona Noronha, 19, a student of journalism and English at NMKRV College in Bengaluru, was slammed with sedition for chanting “Pakistan Zindabad” before giving a speech during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the city on February 20, at Bengaluru’s Freedom Park.

The court had earlier observed that if granted bail, Noronha “may involve (herself) in similar offence which affects peace at large”.

60th additional city civil and sessions judge Vidyadhar Shirahatti stated in his order, “if the petitioner is granted bail, she may abscond. Therefore, the bail petition of the petitioner is liable to be rejected,” thereby rejecting her bail plea.

Amulya was charged under sedition by the police and for allegedly promoting enmity between groups, although her friends claimed she was attempting to convey a message of universal humankind by chanting ‘zindabad’ [hail] in the name of all nations, including Pakistan and India.

Video clips of the speech showed her chanting “Hindustan Zindabad” soon after saying “Pakistan Zindabad” and trying to tell the audience that all nations are one in the end – but her microphone had been taken away by then, and hence could not complete the speech.

Amulya’s bail plea was delayed pertaining to the lockdown, which came into force on March 25 – around the time hearings were due to begin in a lower court.

Bengaluru police did not file a chargesheet against the student during the lockdown.

The public prosecutor over the course of bail hearings [which began after lockdown restrictions were eased] argued that Amulya was trying to incite people to create a problem of law and order.

The prosecutor also argued that she had priorly been accused of disseminating hatred and hostility towards a religion and the government established by law in India by holding a placard that stated “F##k Hindutva” during a student protest, hence if released, may commit similar offences since cases were already registered against her.

Defending Amulya, a friend who was part of the February 20 protest said, “before she could complete what she wanted to say they surrounded her and grabbed the microphone. She was later placed under arrest on charges of sedition. What she was trying to say was, if we love one country it does not mean we should hate another.”

Another friend said, “please see her Facebook post of February 16, around 8 pm. Loving another country does not mean you are going against your own — this is exactly what she was trying to say (at the protest). She is promoting unity among nations…”

Today, as her friends awaited her release outside the jail, one of them said, “we’ve been here since 11 am, but nothing’s happened so far. [Her] 114 days inside [the jail] was an attempt to ruin her on no basis. Even if you open the books of law, you’ll find she hasn’t done anything wrong, but attempted to preach peace and respect between nations.”

“What is disturbing, however, is that the right-wing organisation which claimed to give out 10 lakh rupees to the person who would murder Amulya is roaming free – without any FIR or anything,” he added.

 

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