Nalini Balakumar and Maridevaiah S
Human Rights Defenders
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on February 17, 2020 regarding decriminalisation of dissent and sedition charges filed by Mysuru Police against Ms. Nalini Balakumar and Mr. Maridevaiah S. Ms. Balakumar is a student with political and social concerns and Mr. Maridevaiah is a PhD Scholar and President of Dalit Research Scholar Association, Mysuru.
On January 9, 2020, Ms. Balakumar and Mr. Maridevaiah were charged under Section 124 A (sedition) and 34 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code for participating in a solidarity march against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the attack on student protesters in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
The protest was organised by student groups inside the university campus in Mysuru, and videos and photographs of the event showed the HRDs are holding a ‘Free Kashmir’ placard. Although Ms. Balakumar clarified that the placard was an attempt to highlight the more than five-month long internet shutdown in Kashmir, she was vilified as an anti-national by the Mysuru Advocates’ Association, which adopted a resolution barring members from appearing for her case. Ms. Balakumar and Mr. Maridevaiah were granted anticipatory bail on January 27, 2020.