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Students’ arrest: Yediyurappa under pressure to probe police action

The youth, students of the KLE Institute of Technology in Hubballi, have been in the eye of a storm after a video clip showed them raising pro-Pakistan slogans and celebrating the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. Protests broke out in the twin cities last week after the clip went viral.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2020, 11.27 AM IST
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BENGALURU: Chief minister BS Yediyurappa has found himself in a tight spot after BJP-affiliated outfits like the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Opposition Congress and JD(S) members urged the government to probe the conduct of the Hubballi-Dharwad police for the way they handled the arrest of three Kashmiri students in an alleged instance of sedition.

The youth, students of the KLE Institute of Technology in Hubballi, have been in the eye of a storm after a video clip showed them raising pro-Pakistan slogans and celebrating the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. Protests broke out in the twin cities last week after the clip went viral. The region is represented in the Lok Sabha by Union parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi, and the college is run by a society headed by BJP Rajya Sabha member Prabhakar Kore.

Though the police arrested the students — Ameer Wani, Basit Sofia and Talib Majid, of Shopian district in Kashmir — on charges of sedition on February 15, they released them on station bail the next day on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence. The conduct of the police, however, came under serious scrutiny after they picked them up and produced them before a local court on Monday, slapping them with serious charges of sedition. The court remanded them to jail for two weeks.

The indecisiveness and the U-turn demonstrated by the police have now become a subject matter of discussion with both the Congress and the JD(S) holding the government to account in the Legislative Council on Tuesday. Senior JD(S) leader Basavaraj Horatti sought to know why the students were released on a bond in the first place. “Was it out of pressure from some quarters," he asked, demanding a thorough probe into why the police changed their version overnight, and whether they were under any political pressure to do so.

Leader of opposition in the Legislative Council SR Patil (Congress) demanded the suspension of the police commissioner (R Dileep). Interestingly, even sections of BJP leaders sought to know why the police behaved the way they did.

BJP spokesperson of Hubballi (central) Ravi Nayak said they have no clue why the police kept changing their stand. “We are also left wondering what led to the confusion when the issue is of a serious nature,” he told ET. On Monday, hundreds of Sangh Parivar members staged a protest outside the police station in Hubballi.

Meanwhile, KLE Institute of Technology issued a press statement clarifying that the college has suspended the students and it neither pressured for nor requested their release. “The three students got admission to the college under the PM's special scholarship given to students from Kashmir. Hence, their selection is not our prerogative. KLE does not tolerate acts of sedition and we urge the authorities to take stern action against the students,” the principal said.
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