The JNU Controversy and Rohit Vemula’s suicide have taught us some valuable lessons. First and foremost is the fact that none of the minorities or marginalized classes are safe in India. The idea of secularism is dead and voice of dissent has been brutally silenced. These two events have also brought to light the fact that in our country, different versions of nationalism are being constantly patronized different political ideologies and each party remains busy in imposing its version of nationalism. In a situation like this, individual liberty, freedom of thought and expression and right to dissent are brutally murdered. If things continue like this, our country, which takes pride in its unity and diversity, will soon be broken into small pieces.
What is disturbing is that instead of taking steps to hold the social fabric of our society together, these events are used to play political gimmicks. Certain fringe elements are not comprehend the beauty of diversity and are busy trying to suppress minorities. Being secular automatically gets you the label of being anti national, as does criticizing the government. Our leaders are busy promoting their versions of nationalism, even if these versions exceed all limits of humanity. The agonizing part is that the highest institutes of learning, our Universities are not able to distance themselves from what is unfolding at political and societal levels.
After incidents like Vemula’s suicide and JNU controversy, the parliament session was expected to be chaotic. The HRD minister Smriti Irani furious comments over the JNU controversy are a slap on the face of democracy in our country. It must be noted that the video, on the basis of which Kanhaiya Kumar, Omar Khalid and others have been charged with sedition, is believed to be doctored. These facts suggest that the sedition law is being used to suppress the dissenting voices in our country in the same way it was used by colonial rulers.
It is little heart-warming that some prominent personalities have at least expressed their disagreement over the way this country is being run. Indian penal code section 124-A is to suppress the liberty of its citizens, Gandhi Ji also expressed his dissatisfactions in his time. What he said in 1922′ hold true even today. The Supreme Court of India too has argued in many cases that raising mere slogans can in no way be used to slap sedition charges on the citizens.
The Indian state needs to remind itself about what Gandhi Ji reminded the British Government in 1922. “Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law,” A particular version of nationalism, forced and imposed, cannot bring true patriotism in the subjects of a state. Universities are a place of learning, research, debate discussion and expression of ideas and opinions. Caste discrimination, intolerance and suppression of ideas should have no place at these highest institutes of learning. State should try to liberate young minds and not cage them. Those who make fiery speeches in parliament to justify these actions need to understand that “Lies Never Triumph”.
This article was originally posted March 3, 2016 on kashmirobserver.net by.