It has to be absolutely true and a norm – that a university must serve as the first place to invite voices of dissent – if we have to talk about a healthy democratic society.
And in spite of all its flaws, we need to accept that India is such a place. Yes, there is no utopia. Voices are muzzled and crushed in India.
But it is equally true that voices are also raised and heard in India. See all around India and in many other countries and you can realize the importance of a nation being India.
Nowhere there is absolute freedom, including in the United States, in the United Kingdom or even in France, the European hotbed of rising terrorism in the name of Islam in the country.
We have seen how some much advanced societies have abused the concept of the ‘freedom of speech and opinion’ – like in WikiLeaks and Julian Assange’s case. Germany, the rare example of a nation regretting and remembering being the perpetrators of the darkest chapter in the history of human civilizations, the Holocaust, failed to do justice when it let most of the people responsible for the Holocaust off the hook – because there were too many Germans. We know about Russia and China.
So, nowhere is the place for an ideal concept to emerge and pragmatism is the best chance that we can have – voicing against voices crushing the voices of healthy dissent.
Yes, but we should always remember the qualifier here – ‘healthy dissent’.
We must remember, like anything and everything, ‘freedom to express, speak and opinionate’, too, is not absolute – be it in a democracy or in an autocracy or in an aristocracy.
And that is why the incidents at JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) revolving around Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat are deplorable. These two were declared terrorists by the Indian judicial system, after exhausting all democratic means, and were hanged on February 9, 2013 and February 11, 1984. Not going into much debate here, we must accept that these two, like many other anti-India separatists, were engaged in terrorist activities.
And no Indian can support them. Pakistan endorses, supports and promotes terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India in the name of supporting ‘so called independence from India’ acts in J&K. The issue has dictated Indo-Pak ties since 1947 and we know the stand taken by the Government of India and Indians on separatists of J&K.
While it is democratic to allow the separatists to come to the dialogue table to listen to their grievances and see if there are points worth considering, it is certainly not acceptable that we start eulogising declared terrorists.
And every Indian must go by the norm that J&K is an integral part of India.
The video of the JNU event to pay tribute to Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat is even more disturbing when we listen to its whole content. It is openly anti-India and seditious. There can be debates on ‘hanging and pardon’ of Afzal Guru. Democracy has a scope for that – but certainly not for paying tributes to the people who engage in armed struggle against India – and certainly not for raising anti-India slogans that aim to wage war against the state to split it.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/