FIR against Kannada poet for anti-CAA poem

Published : January 29, 2020 13:26 IST

Siraj Bisaralli. Photo: By Special Arrangement

A First Information Report (FIR) has been filed against Siraj Bisaralli, 43, a Koppal-based poet and television journalist for reciting an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) poem at a public event. Bisaralli is a well-known Kannada poet with two published anthologies of his poetry. He was invited to a “kavi goshthi” (a poet’s salon) as part of the ‘Anegundi Utsav’ on January 9, an annual event that takes place in conjunction with the Hampi Utsav to celebrate the legacy of the Vijayanagara Empire. This event is organised by the Department of Kannada and Culture of the government of Karnataka.

Bisaralli recited a seven-stanza poem titled “Ninna Dakhale Yaavaga Needutti”, which translates as “When will you show your papers?” While it does not mention Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah by name, it is clear that the poet is asking them for their identification documents. One stanza states:

‘The pimps who were once British bootlickers,

Are now so intoxicated that they drink the blood of religious hatred

You, the descendants of [Joseph] Goebbels,

When will you show your papers?’

While there was no objection to the poem at the venue, local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members began to object to it after it gained traction on social media. On January 15, C.V. Chandrashekhar, who heads the Koppal district wing of the BJP, filed a complaint with the Superintendent of Police, Koppal district. In his complaint, Chandrashekhar stated that Bisaralli insulted the policies of the Central government, Prime Minister Modi, freedom fighters and “Hindu dharma” at a function organised by the State government and sought suitable action against him.

Following this, Shivakumar Arakeri, BJP Yuva Morcha district general secretary, also complained at the Gangavathi Rural Circle police station on January 24. The police filed a first information report (FIR) against Siraj Bisaralli and his associate Rajabaxi under Sections 504 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code and is investigating. The sections pertain to “intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace” and “statements conducing to public mischief” respectively.

Bisaralli, who spoke to Frontline, said that he was trying to get anticipatory bail as he could be arrested at any point. “I only said what I felt about the CAA and NRC. Everyone all over the country is protesting against this law and now I can be arrested at any point,” he said.