A leading media personality of India has declared himself as an anti-national in expressing solidarity with the students of JNU who have called for the destruction of India. On the other hand we know that his intention is to prove that even though he supports the cause of destruction of India he is a better and original patriot than those who are for the unity and integrity of India as a single nation. We shall dispassionately examine his arguments and claims.
It is not a surprise to me at least, as he takes shelter under some clichés which is a staple of Indian left. As usual, the origin of his universe begins in 1990’s and ends in 2002 (Or probably 2014?). He implies that those who initiated Ram Janmabhoomi movement are anti-nationals and not his ilk who were inciting violence, be it in 2002’s reactionary riots or be it in misguiding Muslims in Babri masjid case that they are winning in the court of law on the question of existence of a demolished Ram temple beneath Babri masjid.
Let’s understand his assertion on absolute free speech, he says that as long as his expression doesn’t incite violence and does not amount to hate speech he is allowed to say what he wants. To me he appears to be lacking an elementary understanding on how different social groups would react for expressions of similar category.
So, there are two categories of speech, one that amounts to hate and has potential to incite violence, the other category being all those expressions that doesn’t fall in the category one.
Let’s test it. M.F. Hussein painting naked pictures of Hindu Goddesses would amount to freedom of expression because it did not incite violence and Prof. Joseph’s hand was chopped off in Kerala because he dared to ask a question about prophet in an exam paper. Both the expressions fall in the same category, but results in different reactions. One group engages in direct murderous violence and the other group engages in petty protests and files court cases. Rajdeep should help us understand how to resolve this issue. Will he suggest the one group to indulge in more direct violence or advice the other group not to indulge in violence? Only then his argument of “if it doesn’t incite violence” will be considered intelligible.
Anti-Nationals cannot be judges in their own cause. He didn’t tell us as to who gets to decide on what is the degree of violence that is acceptable so that such an expression that caused such violence can be brought under the purview of free speech? Whether a specific expression incites violence or not is directly dependent on how a specific social group chooses to respond. Hence Arvind Kejriwal insulting the Hindu God Hanuman by drawing or promoting it in a derogatory manner may be claimed as freedom of expression because even though an average Hindu feels insulted he chooses not to indulge in violence. Should that be a deciding factor to decide what is free speech and what is not? But would the prophets of absolute free speech think about depicting Prophet Muhammad in similar lines? Hence, judgements cannot be passed as to what constitutes agreeable limit of violence so as to bring the expression in question under free speech based on a superficial understanding.
When quoting past events and also the utterances of political leaders who sought secession, Rajdeep is economical with the truth. He says that all those who proposed secession in the past should also be put in to jail irrespective of what position they hold currently. By such statements he is taking the readers for granted or worse he considers them as illiterates, such a treatment is uncalled for.
Not only in Punjab but also in Tamil Nadu and some other places in the past leaders of various political movements sought secession and later went on to become chief ministers for five terms. The question is not what their positions were in the past but where their current allegiance lies? Is it to the Indian Flag and Constitution or not?
So, according to Rajdeep’s logic there can be no amnesties for Maoists and other terrorists who want to join mainstream by giving up violence and surrendering to the state. Can we just tell a terrorist/Maoist who is willing to surrender and give up arms, sorry we don’t care what you have got to say now, and we will still prosecute you because in the past you have indulged in seditious activities?
Why did we have Phoolan Devi as an elected MP of parliament? Do we not have Sajjad Lone as an elected representative? What matters is their current position and allegiance to Indian state. Anti-National activities of the current day cannot be justified by citing the past actions of leaders who are currently holding constitutional posts. The state will deal with Anti-Nationals or those who are encouraging sedition and breakup of India, in its own terms not the other way around.
Another bizarre argument is how come BJP who are the patent holders of patriotism share power with PDP in Jammu & Kashmir because in the past PDP professed separatism? Again he takes us to the past. The test is whether PDP is advocating separatism now? People are entitled to reconcile their fissiparous tendencies for the sake of unity of Nation.
In my opinion being an anti-national is a lesser crime compared to being a hypocrite. Whenever a convicted terrorist is about to be hanged, suddenly they would come out of bunkers wearing their human rights hat to argue against death sentence, once the objective is met they would go back to their other routines.
As much as they would want foot soldiers like convicted terrorists to execute their ideological goals, they just cannot say it openly. Hence, they obfuscate and get melodramatic by using fancy terms like human rights, liberty, secularism etc., an average Indian has a clear idea about what their intentions are.
The state has a constitutional mandate to assert in defense of nation’s unity and integrity. The terrorist who is trying to infiltrate from Pakistan to kill innocents in India and a civilian who is a resident of India openly calling for its destruction are same in the eyes of law and state.
The later has no means to do what the former is doing, just because he has not done it, is not enough to be treated as a valid defense. On the contrary the civilian who is openly promoting the destruction of India and justifies the violence committed by terrorists like Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon is more dangerous than an armed terrorist from Pakistan.
It is disingenuous to argue that what happened in JNU is an anti-government posturing. The leftists are deft at employing deception as they couch their actual goals under some less controversial pretexts. They should know that Indians are not useful idiots.
As much as Rajdeep would want to be pontificating an elected government as to how separatists should be engaged, still ultimate decision lies with the state. Instead of wearing a mask of patriot he should openly declare that he is for the cause of separatists, Arundathi Roy can teach a lesson or two to Rajdeep in this aspect.
Rajdeep uses his lapsed imagination and clubs many unrelated events in to one, i.e., FTII, JNU and Northeast. No one in FTII has called for the destruction of India, it is only in JNU and we exactly know why they do it. Encouraging sedition should not be equated with right to dissent, I am only wondering how a judge would react if an advocate has to put such a ridiculous argument in his court.
There is a difference between actions and intentions. One can argue with the technicalities or the processes that were adhered to by the state in hanging Afzal Guru but one cannot side with his cause and say that it is a right to dissent.
Rajdeep gets noble when he says that supporters of Afzal should be lured in to a political debate instead of branding them as Jihadists, then he lumps Godse and Jihadists in to one category. Even if one has to go by literal reading of law Godse is not seditious but a killer of Gandhi. Crime of Afzal followers is more serious, i.e., sedition and calling for the destruction of India. Even Gandhi would not agree with the point that calling for destruction of India is freedom of expression.
Whether Rajdeep chants Gayathri mantra or he eats Italian pasta is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. If he calls for the breakup of India or supports those who are encouraging it, then he is definitely anti-national. Feigning self-righteousness by calling himself anti-national doesn’t absolve him off his original sin.
In one breadth he says that he respects the republican constitution of Ambedkar and also claims that calling for India’s destruction is his freedom of expression. Ambedkar would be highly concerned to listen to such statements.
At the end of his piece he goes back to his favorite destination – USA, and sticks to his regular script by juxtaposing two unrelated dichotomies i.e., Black V/S white and anti-nationals V/S Nationalists.
Whites used the dogmas of Christianity to oppress Blacks who were transported to US from Africa for slavery. Anti-Nationals a.k.a Jihadists on the other hand are inspired and indoctrinated by theocratic tenants of Islam (Or Radical Islam precisely), how can the anti-nationals in JNU be equated with Blacks?
It is not surprising at least to me on his insistence to offend somebody in the guise of free speech. His laundry list on offending people will certainly have calling for the destruction of India, siding with the cause of convicted terrorists etc., and for time pass he would also abuse a specific religious group and claim that it is his freedom of expression because nobody indulges in violence from that group.
And he is well aware that it is truly anti-national and seditious to hurl a similar abuse on another religious group because swords will be raised and hence incitement of violence, and that cannot be called as freedom of expression. So, Rajdeep, we know who you are, you don’t have to state the obvious.