“Give me the liberty to know, to utter,
and to argue freely
according to conscience, above all liberties.”
The above said words are the roots of a successful democracy. But great democracies come with great obstacles & great qualitative ideas are required to overcome them. India, the biggest democracy of the world, is suffering with such snags since ages. Our heterogeneous nation achieved independence in the late 1940’s and soon after adopted the world’s lengthiest constitution declaring India a democracy.
Democracy run on few fundamentals and free speech is one among them which depart democracies from the totalitarian regimes. All the flourishing nations around the globe give their population the right to protest and use free speech to criticize the lawmakers. And that’s how a healthy democracy works by shaping the government with the criticism of the masses.
India provides these rights in the Constitution through Article 19 by bestowing the population with the right to free speech, gather peaceably without arms, make associations and move freely throughout the Indian territory.
These rights are usually acknowledged as unlimited which is the only muddle in present times. All rights come with some directives which are commonly not known to the citizens and the law clearly states –
“Ignorantia juris non excusat”: which means ignorance or being unaware about the law is not an excuse to escape the liability for violating the law.
The Indian version of free speech comes with some exceptions which are embedded in clauses 2 to 6 of Article 19 and these clauses provide restrictions related to harming the sovereignty & integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with other states, public order and so on…
The restrictions doesn’t end there, the IPC (Indian Penal Code), 1860 provides for specific punishable acts which are considered a crime like Sec 124A (sedition-showing hatred towards the government), Sec 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (outrage religious feelings), 505 (2) (promoting hatred between classes) and all these crimes are punishable with imprisonment of 3 years.
But the question arises, are these people who are shouting on top of their voice in protests are aware about these laws and their repercussions when they are breached?
Protests are happening all around the globe since ages and they have a different set of objectives everywhere. Whether the protests are against communists like Joseph Stalin, against the Chinese regime in the Tiananmen Square, for rights of African-Americans in the US, for economic reforms in Lebanon or against dictators like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, all have a different aims to uphold the will of the citizens.
India too has its own long list of protests happening on its soil since generations. Previously the protests used to be against the British rule but afterwards started happening against the Indian governments.
The biggest movement which the present generation has witnessed is the 2011 Anti-Corruption led by Anna Hazare in the form of hunger strike at Jantar Mantar. The whole nation realized the power of the common man in a democratic structure. Protests have also happened on issues like reservation (against Mandal commission), Muslim rights (against Shah Bano verdict), Jat reservation and the latest one against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act).
Protesters are crossing their limits in the present times by adopting violence against authorities and taking laws in their own hands. We witnessed that during the Anti CAA protests in Delhi where protesters raised slogans for separation of Kerala, Kashmir, Punjab and instigated violence nationwide & even pelted stones on the police forces. Such protests are still happening throughout the world in the name of ‘Black Lives Matter’, somewhere they are peaceful while at some places it has lead to violence, destruction, mob lynching and even looting. Such felonious activities of the demonstrators then lead them to prison and after that another revolt starts against the government & the judicial system of the country.
USA is having elections this year and due to the ongoing movement it’s very difficult for Donald Trump to continue to hold the White House for another 4 years. In India, we are having protests for the arrests made regarding the Anti CAA dilemma. People don’t even understand and are not even aware about the procedure adopted by the Police and the Courts in dealing with such events.
The political groups take advantage of the ignorance of the population and fuel hate among the masses to fulfill their political agendas. These groups adopt numerous methods to advertise their propaganda like putting up posters or spreading fake news through Facebook or Twitter like online platforms. The junk of population in the present times believe in whatever they see on the social media without verifying anything and adopt the hate to join in the revolt which all started on the basis of false facts. The problem becomes worse when people from the showbiz who are, unfortunately considered their mentors by many, join the protests. These ignorant so-called ‘stars’ make their huge number of followers a part of the hateful crowd and thus hatred spreads further.
The Anti CAA protests unveiled the real character of the protesters by showing that people sitting in protests are much farther away from the real issues, as they didn’t even knew the full form of CAA or difference between CAA and CAB. The ignorant crowd included rich NRIs with western accent and a long background of foreign education. The protests brought at least one thing out in the open that, by adopting western culture or by living and studying in a foreign land doesn’t soar anybody’s wisdom.
Raising voice and making oneself heard is the right of every citizen, but adopting violence is not. The generation needs to understand the evil motive of the political parties and the repercussions they can face when they violate laws.