Freedom for India did not come at a cheap price. It was only possible because of the dedicated effort and multiple sacrifices of gallant freedom fighters like Mr Gandhi, Dr Ambedkar, S C Bose, JawaharLal Nehru, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqullah Khan and countless others. These brave hearts stood up for complete freedom-political as well as personal. They did not only want freedom from colonial oppression but also wanted equal rights for every citizen of the country. They believed in freedom that allowed people from all sections of the society to live peacefully in a single secular country. They never called for fragmentation of this nation on the basis of caste, religion or sect. They believed that the strength of this nation lay in unity and worked tirelessly for it.
After achieving freedom from colonial oppression in August 1947,the founders of the nation, on realising the need to protect the rights of every citizen of the country, made elaborate provisions in the Constitution to build a strong foundation for a secular nation. But has our country actually achieved this complete freedom that our great leaders dreamt about? The answer becomes hazier with each passing day.
The definition of freedom underwent a crucial test during the JNU protests. The nonconformist students of the campus questioned the sagacity of upholding of our constitutional rights by our justice system. Our government veiled important questions asked by the students over Afzal Gurus hanging by slapping the students with sedition charges. This extreme step was merely taken to hide the gross injustice done while investigating the parliament attack of 2001 for which Mr Guru was subsequently hanged after being convicted. Being known for their political debates and unorthodox methods, the JNU students, unlike other meek and submissive Indians, questioned the judicial process openly. They even alleged that Afzal was offered a mock trial. They demanded the reasons behind not informing his family about the execution date and the reason his mortal remains still remain buried in Tihar jail rather than being sent back to his family as the law dictates.
Mr Guru was as much a citizen of this nation as our leaders running this country today are. Yet, he wasnt given the same rights we all enjoy. The dissent among the citizens only grew from there. The Indian social system was literally dissected at the famous Ganga Dhaba by Kanhaiya Kumar in his hour long electrifying speech while addressing a huge gathering of students. He, in his speech, said, We fight for the 80 percent poor population of the country. This is patriotism for us. We have full faith in our country’s constitution and we want to strongly say that if anyone points fingers on the constitution of this country, be it a Sanghi or anyone else, we will not tolerate that finger. But, the constitution which is taught in Jhandewalan and Nagpur, we don’t believe in that constitution, we have no confidence in the Manusmriti. We have no confidence in the country’s racism. In this country, when a poor talks about basic food, you people fire at them, you have fired at the Muslims. When a women talks about women empowerment, you say that all five fingers are different. Women should behave like Sita (agnee pariksha). In this country, there is democracy which provides equality to all be it a student, clerk, labourer, farmer or even an Ambani or an Adani. All have equal rights. When we talk about women empowerment, they say that we are ruining the Indian culture. We want to ruin exploitation culture, racism culture, casteism. I don’t agree with this concept of Bharat Mata. My mother is an Anganwaadi worker, our family runs on an income of Rs 3,000. I’m ashamed of this country because the mothers of this country are not a part of Bharat Mata. I will salute the mothers and sisters of India, salute the farmers, the labourers and the adivasis. If you have the guts, say Inquilaab Zindabaad, say Sukhdev Zindabad. Who will decide what justice is? When there was casteism, Dalits were not allowed to enter the temple and it was justice. When the British were here, dogs and Indians were not allowed in a restaurant. This was justice. We challenged this justice and even today we will challenge ABVP and RSS’s justice. Their justice does not accommodate our justice. We will not agree to your justice, to your freedom. We will agree to justice the day when every individual will get their constitutional rights.
His speech however didn’t go down well with the ruling fascist regime. With the help of Delhi police, biased media channels and some doctored videos, Kanhaiya was made out to be the enemy. The President of JNUSU found himself caged in the same cell in which Afzal Guru was held in Tihar jail. Few days later, his other fellow students, Omar Khalid & Anirban Battacharya too surrendered before the Delhi Police. However, the youth of the nation stood firmly behind the JNU union president Kanhaiya Kumar and the fight that he and Rohith Vemula had started spread to every corner of the country. Today we can hear a united voice demanding the freedom our leaders fought for. Thousands of students of Jamia Millia sent postcards to the President of India demanding justice just like Mr Kumar predicted in his speech. He said, More Rohiths you kill, more will emerge out of every house.”
Finally the government had to kneel before the youth and Kanhaiya was released on bail. After coming out, he lashed hard at the Modi run government. This time he made a sharp distinction between ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom in’ India. Like he said, India needs freedom from Capitalism, Brahmanism, Racialism, Casteism, Religious Bigotry and Fascism. The concepts of justice and equality need to be redefined in the modern context. A composite and egalitarian society is what India needs right now. The fight for freedom within India has just begun and the fascist government is trying its best to dilute this fight for justice and equality and destroy the atmosphere of raising difficult questions. This isnt the freedom India fought hard for. Was Indian independence nothing more than just a change of governments? The social, economic and political problems that a common man faces today in our country are no different than what people in the pre-independence era suffered from. The time has come for India to reassess itself now with an open mind and with bit more courage.
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