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Indian Muslim girl arrested for ‘wishing Pakistan Day’

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BENGALURU: A 25-year-old Muslim woman was arrested in Karnataka’s Bagalkot district for wishing people on Pakistan’s Republic Day, reported The Indian Express on Monday, citing the superintendent of police.

The woman, identified as Kuthma Sheikh, is a resident of Mudhol town and a student at a local madrasa.

“May God bless every nation with peace, unity and harmony,” said the message she posted in Urdu on her WhatsApp status on March 23, when Pakistan celebrates its Republic Day, the police said.

Sheikh was arrested on March 24 based on a complaint filed by an activist named Arun Kumar Bhajantri and sent to judicial custody, reported The Hindu. She was released on bail a day later.

In his complaint with the police, Bhajantri alleged that the woman was trying to create enmity between communities and demanded that she should be booked for treason.

The police booked her under Sections 153(A) (creating enmity between groups on the basis of religion, race, etc) and 505(2) (statements promoting enmity between groups) of the Indian Penal Code.

The police said Sheikh was arrested to maintain peace and law and order situation.

“Her post could be interpreted as if it was meant to commemorate Pakistan’s Republic Day,” a police officer told The Hindu. “It could lead to unrest and protests and counter-protests, if we had not acted on time.”

Athani-based lawyer and Right to Information activist Bheemanagouda Paragonda said the police should use their wisdom and judgement before arresting anyone.

He said that the allegations made by Bhajantri would not stand legal scrutiny, adding that innocent people are harassed by knee-jerk reactions from the police.

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