NEW DELHI -- Over the past two days, Indian lawmakers have debated the suicide of a Dalit student at the University of Hyderabad, and the slapping of sedition charges on six Jawaharlal Nehru University students for allegedly raising "anti-national" slogans on campus, and organizing an event to mark the third anniversary of Afzal Guru's execution.
While sparking protests in the Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bangalore, these events have unleashed a public debate on free speech, dissent, "nationalism," and whether discrimination is eating away at universities.
Here is what lawmakers said in both Houses of Parliament.
"The idea of India is not so brittle as to crumble at the echo of a few slogans. You cannot be a true nationalist if you are opposed to freedom. It is not a crime to seek freedom from caste oppression, freedom from class exploitation, freedom from gender discrimination. We must give our students and youth, the freedom to think, the freedom to speak, the freedom to be idealistic, and yes, the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.”Sugata Bose, TMC
"Neither the NDA nor BJP professes only one ideology should prevail in this country?"
"Can hate speech ever be free speech? Do you have the free speech to say that you will break this country.....What does the police do if in the heart of Delhi slogans are raised about breaking India. Should the police be a mute spectator? Finance Minister Arjun Jaitley, BJP
"New slogans come out every year. Last year, 'Digital India' and 'Make In India'. This year, 'Start Up India' and 'Stand Up India'. The reality is that our youth wants respect. Live and Let live in India."
"The man who killed the father of the nation is a patriot for this government and a student against whom no case can be established has been booked for sedition.”Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress Party.
"Should we all not condemn the slogans raised in favor of Afzal Guru. None of us would have been alive today if he had succeeded." Venkaiah Naidu, BJP
“Family first, party next, nation last. For us, it’s nation first, party next, and self last."Anurag Thakur, BJP
"Can you imagine a situation in any country in which the Home Minister, the repository of all intelligence source, gives a tweet and retracts?" Sitaram Yechury, CPI (M)
“Lumpenism to the core” at Patiala House Court. D Raja, CPI.
"I'm challenging the BJP. Will you be able to establish the charge against Kanhaiya. And will you resign if you fail. The charge against Kanhaiya is false....Rohith would not have been killed if Dattatreya had not written the letter. He would not have died if Smriti Irani had not taken action against him. Rohith will not get justice.
When Congress was in power, they said it is our liberal ideology. When the BJP is in power, then it is the ideology of Savarkar, Golwalkar, Deendayal Upadhyaya. Till when both of you talk about ideology. What happened to Hindustan? You are forcing your ideology." Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM.
"The politics that exploits the death of the student will destroy the country.”
“In everybody’s political experience, have you ever seen Rahul Gandhi go to one spot twice? No, never gone. Six hundred students died for the Telangana movement. Did he go once? He did not go once. But in this he saw political opportunity.”
“If you are not satisfied with my answer, Mayawati ji, then I will cut off my head and put it at your feet."
"Are we saying to this country that a judge’s capacity to deliver justice will depend on his caste?" HRD Minister Smriti Irani, BJP
"Ambedkar virodhi yeh sarkar’, ‘Dalit virodhi yeh sarkar’ - BSP lawmakers.
"I'm a troubled man today. As members of the highest temple of democracy we are supposed to be giving solutions to the people of this country. We see the impatience, we see the carelessness, we see the arrogance, and we see their attitude of one-sideness. When this whole nation is watching that what solutions do these leaders put up during these very delicate dicussions concerning the youth, democracy, terrorism. Here we are a bunch of people shouting at each other unable to address the real problems."
"We all recognize that modern man has not evolved and brought about a better system of governance than democracy. And so when you have a scoundrel by the name of Afzal Guru, who dares to come and attack this sacrosanct temple, there can only be killings and hangings.
The very system that he wanted to destroyed allowed him to breathe for 11 years, one month, and 11 days after he was nabbed for this dastardly attack. That very system allowed him to appeal from one court to the other court till the Supreme Court.
And that very system of democracy allowed him to go on a clemency petition to the President which elongated his life span. That man, that scoundrel, didn't have a understanding of how great this system is. Tathagata Satpathy, BJD.
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