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Rethinking sedition

Rethinking sedition

The sedition case revolving around the Shaheen Urdu Medium Primary School in Bidar invokes the recurring discussion of the colonial law that has survived the test of democracy when it ideally shouldn't. When a student's mother and the school's headteacher were arrested on sedition charges for a play which the police said criticised the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, India saw yet another instance of a draconian law being profusely used despite Supreme Court's repeated flags. The incident is not just a low for Karnataka police but the school as well. While the school maintained that the play was an exercise to sensitise the students about the concerns of Muslims about the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens, including children in such controversial sphere where the constitutionality of the law itself has been challenged is not a right decision. The same can be said about a play by a Karnataka school, which enacted the demolition of Babri Masjid — a month after the controversial Ayodhya verdict cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Mandir. Sri Rama Vidyakendra High School made its students re-enact the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 15 in what is a very controversial step by an educational institution which should ideally serve to promote harmony. The play, irrespective of being hailed by some sections of society, was deplorable to a great extent as it had elements that are anti-secular and, therefore, against the ethos of the Constitution. Both plays, in essence, constitute elements that may impact the children. Radicalisation also has its roots in the same. Children enacting a play where they bring down the Babri Masjid is, by no stretch of the imagination, a right projection of art and culture. Art and culture do not promote hate. They do not invite violence and neither do they promote it. Children being part of such plays which have polarising arguments cutting across sections of society is not a very healthy growing environment. The picture of cops seemingly interrogating little children is sad. It projects an indifferent attitude from the police. The picture is enough for us to introspect the law of sedition. Surviving multiple Supreme Court interpretations and existing in the age of fundamental rights that it has the capacity to subdue, Sedition requires deliberation towards prudent reform. Political intent has made a deep cut here. While it is not ideal to ask children to enact on disputable subjects, the police action is worse. It will be in India's best interest to subject the colonial law to a test of validity so that it is not misused in a society that guarantees fundamental rights and liberty.

(Image taken from indiatoday.in)

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