Varalika Mishra | Caravan Daily
“WE’VE BEEN hearing this for some time now — ‘Save the Nation’ from this, from that. Rather, fact is that the Nation needs to be saved from those who say it should be saved.” A statement of this kind had been made by Saadat Hasan Munto in one of his essays, which can easily be linked to the present Indian context.
The premise on which the Constitution of India was built rests on the tenets of democracy, equality, secularism and freedom of expression. Any peaceful protest is allowed as per provisions of the Constitution. India as a democratic nation believes in the right to life, under article 21, which cannot be violated on any ground. Having said this, I, as a proud Indian citizen, feel being intimidated by the current scenario out here, a nation ruled by violence and blood.
Nevertheless, the solidarity that the youth is demonstrating is highly commendable. From Delhi University to the Jamia to Aligarh Muslim University, colleges of universities across the country have joined in the protest against the CAA/NRC and against all the atrocities perpetrated on students of different colleges in return for their peaceful protests. While peaceful protesters have been mostly detained by cops, goons have been allowed to roam freely. This is the irony of the current scenario.
Mob violence and lynching tell us a story about denial of justice. Those accused of indulging in such brutalities have been set free mostly. Last year, those who lynched Pehlu Khan were set free. In fact, more crudely, charges were framed against Pehlu Khan under section 6 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act 1995. Mob violence has mostly targeted Muslims. Subsequently, what happened at Jamia University was horrific. While students were protesting peacefully, several students were arrested and even those students who were studying peacefully in the library were beaten and tortured mentally.
The Constitution of India emphasizes on freedom of expression and equality but these are not being applied in the current climate. Law and order has been violated and the innocent are being attacked. Be it activists, the middle class segment, or the politicians. Nobody is spared from the long arms of the police in Uttar Pradesh and other BJP- ruled states.
‘Muslims have been targeted for their identity. Notices were sent in Uttar Pradesh to households, whom the police thought were a threat to the nation. Irony had been that one notice was sent to a man who is no more alive, but his identity as a Muslim posed a threat to the nation. One wonders, is this the country Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar had envisioned?
No matter what the political stance is for or against the CAA OR NRC, nobody has a right to violate any Constitutional right. Even for expressing views on social media, mean actions like trolling of people and personal attacks have dominated the scene. Anyone who expresses his view is labeled anti-national, urban-Naxal or a part of the so-called ‘Tukde-tukde’ gang. It is indeed a shame to live in such an undemocratic environment where the freedom to express has been violated and shattered into pieces. Women are being subjected to rape threats and misogynistic comments by goons even for expressing their views against CAA or NRC.
To begin with, any opinion expressed against the government gets more trolls than it being heard in a democratic manner. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, several students and activists were arrested on the pretext of being a threat to the state. Have we forgotten the fact that debates and dialogues are the essential requirements of democracy?
In light of the recent atrocities on students for peacefully protesting at Jamia and JNU, against the CAA and NRC and the fee hike, protests have gained steam across the world. Every concerned citizen is out on the road to protest against the brutal suppression of voice. Women at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi have demonstrated immense courage, so did the girls of Jamia and the president of JNU Student Union. Recently, actress Deepika Padukone also expressed solidarity with JNU students.
In addition, it is imperative to understand why the students have won solidarity across the world. These are not a ‘tukde-tukde’ gang; these are educated students mindful of their Constitutional rights. These students know India is a secular country which does not discriminate against any individual on the basis of religion, and provides equality to all individuals. The fact that peaceful protests have been faced with violence and detentions, while goons have been allowed to roam freely, speaks a lot on the political and legal climate of the country.
Unfortunately, when students protest, they are labeled as the ‘tukde tukde’ gang; when the middle class protests, they are labeled as urban Naxals; when Muslims protest, they are termed anti-nationals. Peaceful protesters have lost their freedom to be secure in the current political climate.
The only hope that can bring about a change is the Supreme Court’s intervention in the related case now before it, which is listed for January 22. As an concerned citizen, I appeal for justice, dialogues, debates and preservation of one’s ‘right to life’ for the sake of the Constitution and the democratic principles that India preserves since its Independence.
Varalika Mishra is currently an education analyst at IPE Global, Delhi. She is a writer and has worked at The Hindu, as a sub editor and interned at Hindustan Times.