Dalit leader languishing in jail after raising slogans in favour of Tipu Sultan

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Balekai Srinivas [Special arrangement]

By Snobar Khan

Balekai Srinivas, a Dalit leader and district president of SDPI, has been in police custody for more than a month. He was  arrested by the police on 17 January in Karnataka’s Chitradurga city.

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Srinivas had drawn the ire of Hindu extremist groups and subsequently the police as he had raised slogans in favour of Tipu Sutlan at an event, protested against anti-conversion bill and tried to erase objectionable writings of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal from a wall opposite a temple.

Police have booked him under the Goondas Act and invoked various charges against him such as violation of Covid-19 protocols, vandalism, defaming Deputy Superintendent of Police Paanduranga, assaulting his neighbours and finally not having a number plate on his scooter.

“Srinivas was arrested for conducting Sanvidhan Raksha Program, protesting against Anti- Conversion Bill, for conducting Dalitha Maha Ganesha program and for speaking against the hate speeches,” said Riyaz Kadambu, the media secretary of Social Democratic Party’s (SDPI) Karnataka wing.

“Is it really a crime to protest for the right to equality and to speak up against hate speech in the state? Is this what you call justice?” he asked.

Srinivas’s arrest has been condemned by local activists as well. In a tweet, Syed Mueen, a social activist in Karnataka, said “Raising slogans in favor of Tipu Sultan has become a crime in the state of Karnataka. Police arrested a Dalit leader named Srinivas on fabricated charges under the pressure of Bharatiya  Janata Party (BJP) leaders.”

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