One person has been taken into custody a day after the Kerala Police registered a case in an incident involving a minor boy raising hate slogans while sitting on a man’s shoulder at a rally organised by the Popular Front of India (PFI) as part of its “Save the Republic” campaign in Alappuzha on May 21. The arrest also came a day after the Kerala High Court expressed shock over a video of the incident that had gone viral on social media.
“As of now, we have taken one person into custody. We are questioning him. Further action will follow,” a police official told news agency PTI. The FIR registered by the Alappuzha police, based on a complaint filed by advocate Vijayakumar of Bharatiya Abhibashaka Parishad, also lists PFI district leaders Vandanam Nawas, Mujeeb and others as among accused. The case has been registered under various provisions of the IPC and the Kerala Police Act including Sections 153-A, 295-A, 505 (1) (b), 505 (1) (c), 505 (2), 506 of the IPC and 120 (o) of KP Act.
Expressing concern over children being used as political tools for inflammatory sloganeering at recent rallies, the Kerala High Court had on Monday deliberated over the legality of involving minors in political and religious gatherings. While hearing cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, a single bench comprising of Justice P Gopinath observed that children involved in these rallies “will grow up with hatred inside them”, reported Live Law. The judge wondered whether it was legal to force young children into “spewing hatred” at such rallies.
The video of the minor raising hate slogans sparked a major controversy in Kerala as the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council targeted the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government of going soft on extremist elements to protect their vote bank.
“The video of this event & media reports have shocked Kerala. Hate speech & intimidating slogans are deplorable irrespective of the politics behind them or the religion of those using them. Opposing communalism means opposing the communalism of all sides,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor wrote on Twitter.