Amulya Leona, a young woman from Karnataka, has been booked for sedition for saying “Pakistan Zindabad” at a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Bengaluru on Thursday. Among those present was Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP, who immediately rushed to stop the girl, mid-sentence.
In a video of the incident, the visibly horrified MP can be heard saying, “You cannot say that!”
Leona tries to complete her sentence despite the attempts to stop her but only manages to chant "Hindustan Zindabad” a couple of times before she is overpowered and whisked away.
Seemingly, what Leona wanted to say when she came on to the stage was what she had posted on Facebook only a few days earlier, on February 18.
Owaisi was quick to denounce Leona, describing her as a “so-called liberal”. She had no association with his party, he said. In his address that continued after the incident, he said, “The organisers should not have invited her here. If I had known this, I would not have come here. We are for India and we in no way support our enemy Pakistan. Our entire drive is to save India.”
Not long after, Leona was arrested for sedition; promoting enmity between different groups; making imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration. She was sent in judicial custody for 14 days and denied bail. Her bail plea will be heard again on February 24.
Meanwhile, Leona’s home was attacked by alleged BJP supporters, and her father was heckled and forced to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. In an interview with ANI, he said, "What she said is wrong. She was joined by some Muslims and wasn’t listening to me!"
On Friday, Karnataka’s BJP chief minister, BS Yediyurappa, condemned the young woman and alleged that she had links with the Maoists. He said, “Her own father has said, ‘Break her arms and legs. She should not get bail. I will not protect her.’”
Not surprisingly, Indian TV news had a field day reporting on the incident, especially because only a few days earlier, AIMIM leader Waris Pathan had landed in controversy for saying in a speech that 15 crore Muslims of India could overpower 100 crore Hindus.
’s Arnab Goswami played the entire video clip, including the bit where Leona says “Hindustan Zindabad”. However, he conveniently chose not to acknowledge it. Connecting the incident to Waris Pathan’s speech, he held Owaisi responsible because he happened to be present. “The people backing the Shaheen Bagh model of anarchy have become desperate and, ladies and gentlemen, we have to be very careful tonight because of their desperation,” Goswami said.
As the anchor continued attacking Owaisi’s party, tickers ran riot on the screen: #ShaheenBaghCollapse; Pro Pak slogans at Owaisi Rally; Owaisi Stumped, Intervenes.
Sudhir Chaudhary of started his show with Pathan’s speech. He then came to what Leona had said but not before rambling for a few minutes about how people, especially intellectuals and “designer journalists”, didn’t care about women’s safety. Unlike Republic TV, his channel cut out the part where Leona says “Hindustan Zindabad”. They only played the part where she says “Pakistan Zindabad” on loop as Chaudhary yattered about how it was now “fashionable” to shout pro-Pakistan and “Tukde Tukde” slogans.
went a step further. Not only did they cut out the portion of the video where Leona says “Hindustan Zindabad”, but they also decreed “zindabad” wasn’t a safe word and beeped it out.
, on a show titled Newshour Agenda, specifically played the “Pakistan Zindabad” clip on loop while the anchor Padmaja Joshi dramatically wondered aloud, “At what point is this going to stop? Where do people get off on the issue of freedom of expression?”
India’s TV mob has found a new villain. Her name is Amulya Leona. And it doesn’t matter if she followed up the “Pakistan Zindabad” chant with “Hindustan Zindabad”.