The intolerant and the seditious

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The constitution of one of the largest democracies in the world seems to be too much tangled within its own book of laws.  While on one hand, the constitution claims to give each and every citizen a basic right to freedom of speech and expression under various articles spread along certain chapters, it at the same makes provisions that curtail people’s usage of these rights.

How much justified does it seem, that on the one hand when it claims to give full illusion of democracy, of speech and expression, making people believe that their visions are respected, their ideologies and beliefs appreciated, and their voices listened to, it, at the same indulges in curbing these dissenting voices through various potential means and misuse of sedition laws.

The recent Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) controversy sets a practical example of how shallow, hypocritical and vague democracy has turned out to be, how freedom of speech and expression has become no more than a mockery to their own system and how everything related to Kashmir is seen through the political prism of anti nationalism and violence. 

Sedition as it has been used against the JNU’s Students President is known to be a non bail-able offence and the person charged is bound to spend time in jail for an indefinite time. This may be the precise reason that the system is making the most out of it by booking innocent youth, but what it fails to comprehend or maybe overlooks is that, under this charge it is not just risking the mental balance and crushing the ability of decision making out of its own tomorrow, it is also adversely putting at stake the whole future of the alleged.  It is on the basis of these charges, that the budding tomorrow is cut out of their own voices by the means of gratuitous arrests, custodial interrogations and what not. Tricks are played with the careers of the youth of this so called tolerant nation in the name of these draconian laws. Students are made miss their exams. They are made to leave their universities and colleges in the mid sessions, not giving much thought to the future of the concerned.

 In a democracy as such, people are already beginning to hate and lose their tolerance as they see themselves falling to the deepest point of the spiral of silence, resulting for them to feel more and more aggressive and frustrated.

The law of sedition in a 21st century Indian democracy has obtained a firm ground and is used as a trump card without taking into consideration any validation of its usage. Sedition defined under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code as “an incitement to violence’ and “disorder,” has today become one among the powerful tools meant to suppress the people’s right to speech and expression. In a democracy when dissent is fundamental to its practice, sedition laws are deliberating in targeting at the basic opinion forming capabilities of the people constituting it. The resulting frustration often leads to intolerance is wooed and questioned and efforts are made by the same system to root out the causes. 

The matter of the fact that the formation of this growing intolerant society that has so much anger and resentment absorbed within its chest remains more and more weaved around the fact that in a highly democratic society as this, crushing of ideas, right to the formation of opinions and decision making are crushed right in the minds of the thinkers. Forming opinion and standing by them, may as well be appreciated only if they do not collide with the ideologies of the powerful. In this biggest secular nation as of our, the thought process of the powerful is the only right way. Even if they are violent in their expressions, and defame the ideas of other people, they are never charged with laws as such. 

The constitution, where the law of sedition and freedom of speech and expression remains within the same book is bound to become a black joke with each passing day. Time and again, this law has proven to curb the resistance with its main intent to suppress the potential paradigm free thinkers. In these modern times, and the current situations of the society, application of laws as such is highly subjective, vaguely violent and if not repelled or at least controlled can lead people into an abyss of intolerance.

These laws hold even more special power and are more vaguely applied when everything is seen through the prism of Kashmiri anti-nationalism. In 2014, almost 67 students were suspended from the Swami Vivekananda Subharti University in Meerut and were slammed with sedition charges merely for supporting Pakistani Cricket Team in a friendly match. If sedition is  “an incitement to violence’ and “disorder,” how come supporting a cricket team of your choice, amounts to such violence and disorder that the whole career of those 67 boys are put at stake by the so called peace keepers. How much justified in a democracy as such using the laws of sedition in respect to the perspective of the powerful towards those group of boys is?

This is where seeing everything through the political prism comes into being. If those kids would have been cheering for say, Australia for example in place of Pakistan, wouldn’t the situations have been limited to the college administration, or would they have still been charged with sedition laws? 

In another example an FIR was lodged against a Booker-Prize winning novelist. She was accused of committing sedition for presenting her views and validating Kashmir’s resistance and trying to make a simple call for justice. 

The main question of the hour that and should no longer be uncared for is that how far is it justified to call this a democratic society when free speech and expression is just limited to the books of the constitution, where dissent and opinion formation is a felony, where every word has to pass through the political prism, and where integrity is slammed with sedition laws under no solid grounds. The sanity of a society as such is truly at stake and if not in entirety, all these flawed laws and expressions contribute a great deal in making people more and more intolerant towards everything at the same.  It’s high time we as a nation and individuals respect and live by the fundamental definitions of democracy, where people’s integrity and ideologies aren’t mocked and where people are not chocked of the basic air of right to speech and expressions, they breathe.

 

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