Kannada poet and writer Siraj Bisaralli was arrested by the Karnataka Police on Tuesday (February 18) for reciting an anti-CAA poem titled ‘When will you show your papers’ in Kannada, during a village festival in Koppal district.
The police also took into custody Rajabaxi HV, the editor of Kannadanet.com, who subsequently shared the poem on social media platforms.
The action was taken after the BJP’s Koppal unit filed a complaint with the Police alleging that the writer insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by criticising the contentious policies of the government.
However, in the poem, the writer does not name the Prime Minister or any national leader, but only categorically asks, those asking for documents to prove citizenship, when will they show their papers.
The journalists’ Association condemned the arrest and vowed to get on streets to protest against the police action.
“Bisarelli’s poem does not abuse any person, religion or caste and his poem has not led to a provocative statement. If the complaint is not withdrawn, journalists from all over the district will have to fight at the state level,” said M Sadiq Ali, District President of the Working Journalists Association.
Siraj Bisarelli has been actively involved in literature for the last three decades. His writings on backwardness class, peasants, workers and Dalits, has garnered a considerable fan following over the years.
His poetry merely expresses his views on the social and political conditions of the country.
“Every poet, writer, a journalist has the freedom of expression to express their views. But some vested interests have filed a grievance complaint against them. We urge them to withdraw,” Ali said.
The incident follows after the state police made a similar arrest in Bidar after children enacted a play in a private school criticising CAA and NRC. After spending two weeks in Jail, the mother of the child who participated in the play, and the school headmistress, were released on bail on February 14.
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On Tuesday, the issue of Police firing in Mangaluru during anti-CAA protests in December rocked the ongoing Assembly sessions in the state. Congress members walked out of the Assembly after Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri refused to allow a discussion on the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state.
An argument ensued after Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai accused Chittapur MLA and former Minister Priyank Kharge as the leader of the ‘tukde tukde’ gang.
The ruling dispensation jumped to react saying it was the Congress ruling the rule of Indira Gandhi that undermined the constitution and arrested those who were critical of the government during an emergency.