Masood Peshimam | Caravan Daily
IN the prevailing atmosphere in the country where dissent is equated with treason, anyone having the cheek to express his/her disagreement with the government of the day is labelled as anti-national. What’s intriguing is that a writer and filmmaker of Anurag Kashyap’s stature could not escape the ire of the Sangh/troll brigade when he criticised Centre’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in a series of tweets.
Ever since he tweeted about Kashmir, the filmmaker had to face an ordeal of abuses and threats. So much so that he had to delete his Twitter account citing threats to his parents and daughters as reported by Indian Express in its August 8 issue.
The Gangs of Wasseypur director was among 49 intellectuals who had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their concern over the rising number of the incidents of lynching. Anurag Kashyap’s is not an isolated case. Many people who tweeted dissent over the government’s Kashmir policy are hounded this way by the lumpen elements owing allegiance to the ruling party. In fact, it is part of a larger trend to target anyone having views at variance with the ruling dispensation.
Any dissent can be labelled as anti-national. The strident threat to dissent of official line or discourse reflects the rising intolerance in the New India. What is all the more ironical it’s the same people who never used to tire of criticising emergency for the same reason.
An incident from the past (emergency days to be precise) best sums up the situation we are in today.
Once, MC Chagla, then chief justice of India and a Central minister in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet, while addressing the press conference on the adverse effects of emergency at KC College in Mumbai, asked the media people to leave the venue stating that they won’t report what he was going to say. Chagla was quite critical of Mrs. Gandhi’s sweeping measures to curb the freedom of expression.
Ms Gandhi cracked down on the media that did not buttress her government’s policies and programmes. A Damocles sword was always hanging on the journalists during the emergency. It was a turbulent phase for the media which could not express dissent against the harsh measures of emergency.
The failure of the government to see the rising discontent among the people against the flaws and foibles of Mrs. Gandhi’s regime led to its eventual collapse.
The author is an advocate by profession and a social activist. The views expressed here are personal.