Indian court questions interrogation of children in anti-government play

BENGALURU: An Indian court on Friday (Feb 14) ordered a state government to explain why police interrogated children who performed a play critical of a new law, a lawyer said, in a case that has raised questions about freedom of speech.

Parliament in December passed a law, championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Hindu-nationalist party, aimed at facilitating citizenship for migrant members of non-Muslim religions from India's Muslim-majority neighbours.



Critics say the law violates India's secular constitution and discriminates against minority Muslims. At least 25 people have been killed in protests against it.

Students at a school in the southern state of Karnataka performed a satirical play on Jan 21 in which reference were made to "dictators" and dialogue that suggested hitting Modi with a shoe, which is seen as particularly insulting.

Police, lawyers and school officials said that following a complaint from a member of the public, the headmistress of the school, Farida Begum, and the mother of one of the children who took part in the play were arrested on Jan 30.

Police later questioned children as young as nine, some of them as many as five times, said Thouseef Madikeri, chief executive of a foundation that runs the Shaheen English Primary and High School, and Narayan Ganesh, a lawyer for the two accused women.



Karnataka's top court on Friday gave the state government, ruled by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), until next Wednesday to respond to a rights group's allegations that police illegally questioned the Read More – Source

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