Bengaluru: Student activist Amulya Leona Noronha, who has been booked for sedition for raising pro-Pakistan slogans at an anti-CAA event in Bengaluru, is no stranger to controversy.
On Thursday, Noronha took the stage at a rally by AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi, soon after the lawmaker ended his speech. The 19-year-old activist went on to shout “Pakistan Zindabad” thrice before the organisers, including Owaisi, rushed to stop her.
The police later booked her for sedition, provoking enmity between groups, and intentional insult to provoke breach of peace. She was then sent to judicial custody for 14 days.
This wasn’t the first time that Noronha, who has become a familiar face at anti-CAA and NRC protests across Karnataka, made headlines for contentious reasons.
Last month, Noronha sparked a row when she heckled Mahesh Vikram Hegde, the editor of Right-wing propaganda website Postcard News, at the Mangaluru airport asking him to sing Vande Mataram to prove his “Indian-ness”.
In a video shared on social media, Noronha could be heard saying, “Sing Vande Mataram if you are an Indian. We will also sing with you.”
Noronha was accompanied by a Karnataka Congress spokesperson, Kavita Reddy, and another activist during the incident. In the video, Hegde didn’t yield to the heckling.
After she was arrested in Bengaluru, Hegde took to social media and said the latest incident proved why he did not sing Vande Mataram “in front of these”.
Today it's proved why I didn't chant Vande Mataram front of these
These don't deserve to hear even Vande Mataram
These do this drama only for publicity
Henceforth if anyone says Pak Zindabad, police shud punish brutally
They shudn't chant even P of Pak
This trend shud stop
— Mahesh Vikram Hegde (@mvmeet) February 20, 2020
On Friday, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa told reporters that his government will take strict action against organisations that are backing people like Noronha and trying to disrupt peace in the state.
Who is Amulya Noronha?
Amulya Noronha, who is from Karnataka’s Chikkamagaluru, describes herself on social media as a “Kaanana-da-Kaajana” (Black Drongo), an aggressive forest bird.
According to her Facebook profile, Noronha is currently pursuing her BA (English) at NMKRV College for Women in Bengaluru. She did her schooling in Koppa, Chikkamagaluru, before moving to Mysuru’s Sadvidya Composite PU College for pre-university. She then worked as a translator at a Bangalore recording company.
The 19-year-old comes from a family of activists. Her father, Oswald Noronha, was an environment activist who had participated in Appiko Chaluvali, a southern version of the Chipko movement that was started by Pandurang Hegde in 1983 to save trees in the Western Ghats region.
Speaking to ThePrint, a friend of her said both Noronha and her father have participated in several protests earlier, with the student activist using her social media handles to voice her opinion.
‘Didn’t complete her sentence’
In a Facebook post on 16 February in Kannada, Amulya Noronha wrote, “Hindustan Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad, Bangladesh Zindabad, Sri Lanka Zindabad, Nepal Zindabad, Afghanistan Zindabad, China Zindabad, Bhutan Zindabad… Whichever country it is, Zindabad to all countries…
“You teach the children that nation is its soil. We children are telling you nation means its people.”
ಹಿಂದುಸ್ತಾನ್ ಜಿಂದಾಬಾದ್!ಪಾಕಿಸ್ತಾನ್ ಜಿಂದಾಬಾದ್!ಬಾಂಗ್ಲಾದೇಶ್ ಜಿಂದಾಬಾದ್!ಶ್ರೀಲಂಕಾ ಜಿಂದಾಬಾದ್!ನೇಪಾಳ ಜಿಂದಾಬಾದ್!ಅಫ್ಘಾನಿಸ್ತಾನ್…
“This may be what she wanted to say on stage (in Bengaluru), but she did not complete her sentence,” said the friend quoted above who didn’t wish to be named.
However, Oswald Noronha condemned his daughter’s action. “What she did was wrong. She was joined by some Muslims and wasn’t listening to me,” Noronha told ANI.
His comment came after Right-wing activists attacked the family’s house in Chikkamagaluru.
Praise for Modi
However, Amulya Noronha’s social media posts aren’t just restricted to criticism of the ruling BJP. In a Facebook post at 4.29 pm Thursday, just before the events unfolded in Bengaluru, Noronha praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Modi does not hate Muslims. Modi loves all people in this country. Sanghis and idiots are the only ones who hate people of all religions,” she wrote.
ಮೋದಿಜಿ ಮುಸಲ್ಮಾನರನ್ನು ದ್ವೇಷಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಮೋದಿಜಿ ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಶದ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಜನರನ್ನು ಪ್ರೀತಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಸಂಘಿಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ತುಕಾಲಿಗಳು ಮಾತ್ರ…
Speaking to ThePrint, Oswald Noronha said while his daughter has rendered speeches against Modi, he was unaware why she posted in favour of the PM.
“I have voted for the BJP earlier, even campaigned for former Sringeri BJP MLA D.N. Jeevaraj and voted for him thrice. I also voted for Shobha Karandlaje in the 2013 Lok Sabha elections, but not this time. There may be some reason why she (Amulya) did that,” he said over phone.
In another viral video of her currently doing the rounds on social media, Noronha can be heard saying how she is “only the face of the protests”, but the real “heroes” are the ones who advise her.
“There are a lot of senior activists, a content team, my parents who tell me what I should say or do. There is a very big student group, Bangalore Students Alliance that work hard, I am just the face of it, they are the ones who are working really hard without any credit or identity in the media. They are the real heroes (sic),” she said in the video.
ThePrint couldn’t ascertain the authenticity of the video.
In another Facebook post Thursday, she complimented former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy for reading out an anti-CAA poem, Ninna Dakhale Yaavaga Needuttee (When will you give your documents), from the floor of the Karnataka assembly. Siraj Bisaralli, the poet who wrote it, was arrested on sedition charges and later released on bail.
ಕುಮಾರಸ್ವಾಮಿ ಅವರು ನಾಡಿನ ಜನತೆಯಿಂದ/ಕಲಾವಿದರಿಂದ ಇಂದು ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಗೌರವ ಸಂಪಾದಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂದು ನಾನು ಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ.ಪಕ್ಷ ಯಾವುದಾದರೆ ಏನು? ಜನರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಮಾತನಾಡಬೇಕು, ಜನರಿಗೋಸ್ಕರ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡಬೇಕು!