Booked for Pro-Sharjeel Slogan, Court Now Rejects Bail to Kris
The anticipatory bail application of Kris Chudawala who has been booked on sedition charges for allegedly raising slogans in support of Sharjeel Imam, has been rejected by Mumbai Sessions Court on Wednesday, 5 February, reported ANI.
No interim relief has been given for appeal in the High Court as well. Kris, who has been referred to by his deadname, Urvashi Chudawala in the FIR, reportedly raised the slogans at 'Mumbai Pride Solidarity Gathering’ on 1 February.
A Delhi court on 3 February extended police custody of Sharjeel Imam by three days, who was arrested on sedition charges himself.
Imam was produced at the residence of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Purushottam Pathak in the evening amid high security, said advocate Mishika Singh, appearing for the Jawaharlal Nehru University research scholar in the matter, according to PTI.
Mere Slogans Don't Constitute Sedition: TISS Students’ Union
The students' union of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, came out with a statement in support of Chudawala. Referring to a judgment by the Supreme Court, they stated, “only raising slogans cannot constitute sedition unless there is an implicit threat of violence.”
The college added that in the same Pride gathering, Kris had also read out the preamble of the Constitution which was witnessed by everyone present at Azad Maidan, thereby “negating all claims of them being anti-national.”
The TISS Teachers’ Association has also condemned the allegations against Kris. In an open letter, the association wrote,
“The individual scapegoating of a young person, whose actions have been taken completely out of context and twisted to suit a pre-determined agenda, is part of a larger attempt to undermine an academic institution that stands for Constitutional values and social justice.”Statement by TISS Teachers’ Association
‘Condemn Radical Slogans in Support of Sharjeel’: QAM
Queer Azadi Mumbai (QAM) which had conducted the gathering stated, “We completely disassociate ourselves from and strongly condemn the abrupt radical slogans in support of Sharjeel and/or any other slogans against the integrity of India at the gathering.”
Imam was arrested from Bihar's Jehanabad on 28 January for allegedly making inflammatory speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia University and in Aligarh. He was brought to Delhi the next day. The court had earlier sent Imam to a five-day police custody.
Signature Petition Against Sedition Charges on Activists
A signature petition is currently being circulated in support of Chudawala and the other protesters against whom sedition charges have been slapped.
The following is the full text of the petition:
On 2 February 2020, an FIR with charges of sedition was lodged against 51 individuals for raising slogans at Azad Maidan during Mumbai Pride 2020. These charges are baseless and deserve to be condemned.
This FIR is an act of political vendetta by right-wing politicians who have tried to hijack Pride to suit their agenda in the run-up to the Delhi elections. The systematic targeting of a young trans student, Kris Chudawala (referred to by their deadname in the FIR), is malicious and unnecessary.
By sensationalising one slogan taken out of context, politicians are using the same strategy they tried to use at JNU, at the Gateway protests, and at Shaheen Bagh. By picking on one person, they have shown that this FIR is part of a continuous attack on student voices across the country. We cannot fall for their propaganda.
The Supreme Court of India has laid down strict guidelines about the definition of sedition. This FIR clearly violates those guidelines. As allies and members of a community that fought against a colonial law, Section 377, we cannot support the persecution of LGBTQIA+ individuals under sedition – another colonial law.
Pride has always been about protest and celebration. We will continue to stand up against the persecution of oppressed groups everywhere – because, as queer people, we know what oppression looks and feels like. And because, as Audre Lorde said, “there is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
As citizens of India, we demand that this FIR against Kris Chudawala and others be dropped immediately. Further, as queer individuals and allies, we ask that their deadname or photo not be used and that their right to privacy remain respected and protected.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
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