JNU crackdown: Right to freedom of speech comes with responsibility towards maintaining India's sovereignty - Firstpost
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JNU crackdown: Right to freedom of speech comes with responsibility towards maintaining India's sovereignty


By Keshav Upadhye

Some subjects are beyond the purview of politics. Certain hypocritical groups are indulging in slogans that call for inciting hatred for the ideas that constitute our nationhood. They call for ruining the morale of our people and yet passionately hide their true intentions behind the veil of ‘freedom of expression’. But these hypocrites forget that they will enjoy their freedom of expression and democracy will prevail in India only as long as the country survives. If someone sets out to destroy that basic idea of nationhood then should not such nihilistic attitude be confronted?

The hue and cry raised all over the country by the incidents that began in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not just unfortunate but also raises many questions. A programme was organised in the university to mark the anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru in which anti-India slogans were raised. Its video clippings spread over social media like wild fire across every nook and corner of the country. People across all sections of society felt outraged. From the time of these video clippings getting viral, groups of pseudo secularists and hypocritical intellectuals are finding it difficult to explain their doublespeak.

Slogans of breaking up India and destroying India, and “Pakistan zindabad” cannot be defended by any amount of convoluted logic. Such activities need to be firmly confronted with strong approach. Any concerned citizen of the country will react in this manner alone. And yet the pseudo secularists and fuzzy headed intellectuals through their tortuous arguments are trying to divert this debate into an ineffectual topic. Lame explanations are being handed out such as: "Though the incident is unfortunate no action is needed and freedom of expression must be valued". Rahul Gandhi crowned futile efforts by announcing that he will agitate against the action taken by the authorities.

Some intellectuals are not just trying to justify such incidents but also trying to confuse people by making specious arguments saying that they too are committed to constitutional democracy and the resentment of protesters is only against Hindu Rashtra. Are not the slogans of “Ruining India” and “Ghar ghar se niklega Afzal” against the Constitution of India? Why is Afzal needed in every home? Was Afzal hanged because he had planned an attack on a Hindu Parliament? He was hanged because he attacked the Parliament of sovereign India. And he was tried in a court of law providing him every opportunity to defend his case. How can these self-serving intellectuals who swear by the Indian Constitution forget the fact that the case was decided after following all legal procedures as prescribed by India’s Constitution?

Activists shout slogans against JNU and Afzal Guru outside the university in New Delhi. AFP

Activists shout slogans against JNU and Afzal Guru outside the university in New Delhi. AFP

They also say that they don’t need certificate of patriotism from organisations such as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). No one needs to get certificate of patriotism from anyone. However, they should at least explain the criteria of patriotism in which the elements that raise the slogans of destroying India fit into. Such fundamental questions are met by inexplicable silence from these self serving ideologues.

Truly speaking certain issues are beyond the scope of partisan politics. They must be addressed with an outlook that transcends the calculation of electoral gains. The people who raise slogans of breaking-up and ruining country and then slip into the argument of freedom of speech forget that only if the country survives will their democratic rights and freedom of speech prevail. If you set out to destroy the very same country that gives you those rights then should not such attitude be opposed tooth and nail?

The differing views within the country must be respected, even if they are in opposition to each other. Unity in diversity is the hallmark of our country. That is exactly why so many differing thought systems have flourished here. Tolerance for different ideologies is ingrained in the ethos of this country. It is for that reason that prime importance is accorded to freedom of thought and expression in our country. But that does not imply that anyone can question the very idea and existence of the country. Rights come hand in hand with responsibilities.

It can be debated whether there should be capital punishment or not. But the present status is that the Indian Constitution has accepted capital punishment under rarest of rare cases. How can these people describe the hanging of Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon as judicial killings when it was awarded by courts of law after fulfilling all provisions of constitution framed by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar? We must not forget that judicial procedure for Yakub Memon continued all through the night till early dawn. Calling the sentence awarded to the Guru as judicial killings, despite the fact that all the judicial procedures as per the provisions of constitution had been fulfilled, is the hypocrisy of the highest order. What can one say about people raising slogan against violence and yet keeping studied silence when issues of Naxalite violence are raised?

The argument that no ‘serious’ harm is caused if a few ‘helpless’ students raise slogans against the country is also hollow because such incidents are not happening for the first time. Basically this argument of poor helpless students is erroneous. For being poor does not give one licence to speak against one’s country. There are many questions facing the country. And together we will solve them all. But the slogan of “Pakistan Zindabad” is certainly not an effective solution for them. Similar incidents have also occurred in JNU in the past. In 2011 this same Democratic Youth Federation had arranged a speech for Arundhati Roy. And in the same function she had issued a statement supporting the killing of Indian soldiers in Kashmir.


Is the democracy and one-sided freedom of speech the monopoly of such hypocrite pseudo secularists and intellectuals alone? The incident of opposing Baba Ramdev’s programme in JNU is still fresh. All its claims of intellectual openness and honesty fall flat by such incidents. Where were the protectors of freedom of speech at that time?

A lone arrest in JNU reminded them of emergency. But how many people raised their voices when many repressive instances including the real emergency occurred in the country? How many people returned their awards? These people who raised a hue and cry for the solitary arrest in JNU did not feel it necessary to register even their simple protest against the murder of an RSS swayamsevak in the presence of his parents that took place in Kerala the other day.

Truly speaking if you do not agree with the decisions being taken by Modi government then you should go and tell that to the people. But at least don’t support anti-national activities for petty politics. Rahul Gandhi has no time to visit the family of the late Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, the soldier martyred in Siachen. But he feels it necessary to go and support people who indulge in activities that harm the country’s interests. He likened the government with that of Adolf Hitler and also criticised it, but conveniently forgot that his own grandmother had imposed emergency in the country.

It is because the people have seen through such hypocritical secularism of these people that the society has rejected them. It seems that they have not come out of their make-believe world in which they can misguide people with their skewed propaganda spread through the debates conducted in the air-conditioned studios of the mainstream media.

Frankly speaking, it is something else than meets the public eye that these people are worried about. The country has
accepted the manifesto of BJP and has given it a clear mandate. People have voted for development. And these people cannot digest this fact. Hence the need to muddle the country’s political atmosphere with ever-new issues on daily basis. The government under Modi at the centre is working effectively for development. Modi by virtue of his dynamic leadership and speedy decisions has completely overhauled the functioning of the government that was trapped in the culture of redtape and corruption during the Congress reign.

The governance has become truly effective and responsive to the needs of the country. The image of India as an attractive destination for investment has been firmly established amongst the international community. The investments are growing. The country’s growth rate bears witness to this fact. All this is going to lead to positive results for the country in coming years. And that gives these hypocritical pseudo-secularists reason to be upset and unsettled about.

(The author is a spokesman of Maharashtra BJP)