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Right to dissent – the ‘intellectual’ way!

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And with every passing day, the JNU debate just gets more and more heated. Suddenly people are trying to change the narrative of the entire debate from the anti–national slogans (and no I am not going to write that in inverted commas) to playing the ever so effective victim card. Not that some of our over enthusiastic vigilante lawyers are not helping their cause. For you see violence helps remove the focus from the anti–national slogans ranging from “Tum kitne Afzal maroge, ghar-ghar se Afzal niklenge”, “Pakistan zindabad” to “Bharat ki barbaadi tak, jung rahegi-jung rahegi” and “Afzal ki hatya nahi sahenge” and gives our certain over enlightened friends the chance to paint these people as some type of victims, martyrs, etc. – which they definitely are not.

The political atmosphere in our country today is such that people who oppose the government at the Centre are ready to support anything and anybody who opposes the Central government, no matter what the cost. A new low was reached recently when a lot of our enlightened political leaders came out in support of the students who raised the aforementioned slogans in the name of freedom of speech just to show the government down. These people who claim to hate generalisation, had even jumped the gun to declare our entire nation as intolerant, just to earn some political brownie points. You see when the current government came to power in 2014, one of the factors which fuelled its rise was the sense in people who they wanted a strong government under a strong leader to make our country reach greater heights.

So if there is a general perception in the people that India is strong that would mean that the government is doing a good job, so the people who oppose the government decided that why not just project an image of India as being this intolerant country which suppresses the right of poor students to freely express their desire to destroy the country. I mean who cares about the things like Make in India, Start Up India, Swach Bharat, electrification of villages, etc., all that matters in the mainstream discourse is that India has become intolerant. And obviously, people who quite naively think that the country is great and are stupid and uneducated enough to say “Bharat mata ki jai” are the dangerous brand of people who are labelled as ‘Bhakts’ (Yeah I know these people don’t like generalisation and name calling but it’s okay if they do it because they are intellectual).

Now I for one am foolish enough to think that we are a great country and I do dearly love it. Which brings me to the question ‘Are we as a nation bullies for vilifying these poor students for freely expressing their desire to destroy the nation we so dearly love? ’. Now answering this question is a bit tricky. For you see people can question as to who am I to give myself a certificate of being a nationalist and voice their opinion, but I think if people can write statuses and articles saying that ‘I am anti-national’, I surely can call myself a nationalist.

Now a lot of the enlightened people while answering the above question say that “The BJP is in alliance with the PDP in J&K and more than half of the PDP leader support Afzal Guru, they don’t arrest them, bloody hypocrites!”. But what they don’t understand is that Kashmir is a very sensitive area (a fact they generally don’t forget to mention whenever they try to justify the support for Afzal Guru), the formation of a democratically elected government over there is very important to maintain stability in the area, the alternative to not forming a government in the area would have been that there would have not been any government in the region and maybe there would have been re-elections over there which mind you involves a lot of security and other measures given the sensitivity of the area. And not to forget that this time after a long time we had peaceful elections in the valley and people came out in large numbers, the coming together of two parties with such drastically opposite views only shows the beauty of the Indian democracy and helps foster faith in the democratic system of the country in the people of the valley. Not to forget that it gives the BJP a chance to represent the people of Jammu who are generally ignored in the government.

So you understand their argument right, the BJP is a bully for taking action in Delhi ,the capital of the country, against people expressing their desire to destroy the country but is weak if it tried to compromise in Kashmir to maintain stability and try for a peaceful solution (I know it’s confusing but it serves their purpose). Now the other often used weapon which you by now must have heard a lot is freedom of expression and the right to dissent. So how this works is that everybody in India including these poor students have freedom of speech and expression, this freedom can be used by them to express their views and it’s all okay until they are ‘peaceful’.

So now let’s for a minute just analyse these expressed views due to which these poor students have been vilified by the bully Indian state. “Bharat ki barbaadi tak, jung rahegi-jung rahegi”, now literally translating this in English for all those who don’t understand why such a statement is anti-national, this means “Till the time India is destroyed, the war will go on”, so now as logic goes you can express your views in relation to the destruction of the nation and still not be tagged as anti-nationals by people because well they have freedom of expression and not to forget they are saying it peacefully. Now let’s pick up another innocent slogan which was raised that day, “Tum kitne Afzal maroge, ghar-ghar se Afzal niklenge”, now again translating this in English for all those who don’t understand why such a statement is anti-national, this means that “How many Afzals will you kill, Afzals will come out from every house”.

So now as logic goes expressing your views in support for a terrorist who had attacked the Parliament of the country, which is the symbol of Indian democracy, and saying that no matter how many such terrorists you kill, more will be born (which again does subtly imply that terrorist attacks would be carried out against the Indian state repeatedly) is not anti – national because they have the freedom of speech and expression and not to forget they are saying it peacefully. It doesn’t matter if justifying Afzal’s actions and spreading venom against the Indian state may encourage the people, to whom such ideas are so freely expressed, to follow the ‘martyr’ who thanks to these freely expressed views has been portrayed as some sort of messiah to them.

Freedom of expression is one of the lifelines of democracy and if used properly can play a very constructive role in shaping a healthy nation but what it is not is a veil which can be misused by people to entice crowds to work towards destroying the nation. And it’s certainly not a get out jail for free card that can be used to justify spreading venom against the nation and entice people to destroy the nation. The right to dissent is a tool which is to be used to criticise the government/state and help keep the government in check. Knowing that the nation has proactive citizens who can point out and dissent whenever the government goes wrong goes a long way in the development and progress of a country. But does this right to criticise the government for its policies and actions include the right call for the destruction of the nation? I certainly hope not. Because no matter how peacefully you inject poison in the veins of the nation, the outcome can never be good.

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