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Dear Dr Tharoor, This Is An Appeal To Your Conscience

20/03/2016 12:00 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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MUMBAI, INDIA - APRIL 16: Former minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in Mumbai, India on Wednesday, April 16, 2013. (Photo by Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Dear Dr Tharoor,

Let me begin by congratulating you for maintaining a relatively balanced political posture vis-à-vis the other politicians of your party, who along with liberal intellectuals and the majority of the mainstream media, seem to have gone into some kind of delirium.

I read your opinion piece on the JNU issue in the NDTV site and found it somewhat misleading and a little short of rational arguments. Although you are a great fiction writer and years of UN experience have trained you in the art of taking politically correct positions, some issues demand venturing beyond superficialities to take a responsible stand. Still, I am writing to you because I feel that you are the only sensible voice left in the opposition.

Questioning the Supreme Court judgment on Afzal Guru and Memon can be regarded as dissent, but slogans such as "Bharat tere tukde honge" are something else.

First and foremost, let me make it clear that this is not the case of dissent. Dissent is what you and your colleagues do in Parliament. Questioning the Supreme Court judgment on Afzal Guru and Memon can be regarded as dissent, but slogans such as "Bharat tere tukde honge", "Jung rahegi jari, Kashmir ki Azadi tak", "Bandook kin nok par lenge Azadi" are something else. They are expressions of extreme hatred the Republic of India, and a verbal intent to wage a war against it. They are highly inflammatory and capable of inciting violence. Those who are directly responsible must be dealt with through legal means, whether it's the sedition law or NSA. What you are doing is changing the goal post, under the cover of four allegations which are at best rhetorical and geared to generate political mileage and at worst fabricated--1) A clampdown on freedom of expression; 2) BJP's nationalism vs. the rest of India's nationalism; 3) saffronization of education; 4) increasing intolerance

The BJP leadership has not attempted to impose any new 'saffron' definition of nationalism. And they have not even questioned the significance of Article 19 and 19(2) (freedom of speech) of the Constitution. In fact, they have acted strictly in accordance with Article 19(2). Now, if you propose an amendment to the sedition law then it can be discussed separately. But, please do not use the amendment proposal to provide a cover-up for what happened in JNU. Even if your amendment is taken into consideration, it doesn't change that the slogans raised were nothing short of an incitement to violence.

Your party patronized Marxist historians like Irfan Habib who misled the nation on the Babri issue .

Secondly, so far there is no evidence of a systematic and organized effort to saffronize education. Your allegation is based on hearsay and lacks empirical proof. Here, I would like to mention that your government patronized those historians who tried to glorify bigots like Aurangzeb. Your party patronized Marxist historians like Irfan Habib who misled the nation on the Babri issue . The intellectual dishonesty of Marxist historians is evident in the fact that they demeaned historical figures like Shivaji and Guru Teg Bahadur (who were mentioned as plunderers), glossed over the facts of mass slaughters of Hindus (Will Durant, Koenraad Elst), demolition of temples and forced conversions during the sultanate period of medieval history.

Thirdly, JNU is not exactly a place of honest intellectual inquiry. It has a history of following a certain ideological school and viewing facts through the narrow lens of that ideology. JNU is the institution where the killing of 76 CRPF men in Dantewada was celebrated. JNU is the place where biased intellectuals like Arundhati Roy are allowed to rant against India and Hinduism with little proof to back their ravings. It is the place where Durga is addressed as a sex worker and the demon Mahishasur is worshipped as a hero, to humiliate Hindus. But JNU never talks about the plight of Kashmiri pundits, the wretched condition of Baluchis and the increasing Islamic extremism in Bengal. JNU which claims freedom of speech to shout slogans seeking death for India keeps quiet when Hindus are forcefully converted and temples are destroyed in Pakistan, and when a man is arrested for questioning the sexual orientation of the Prophet Muhammad.

You wrote that universities are meant to strengthen democracy by debating controversial issues. But debating is different from spreading bigotry and hatred.

Then, you wrote that universities are meant to strengthen democracy by debating controversial issues. But debating is different from spreading bigotry and hatred for India. I am sure any civilized debate can happen without shouting, "India, go back", and "Bharat tere tukde honge."

Yes, I do believe that some tapes might have been doctored. I am even open to the idea that the government response was hasty and immature. But the fact remains that such slogans were shouted on the campus and there is enough evidence of that. You and your party could have focused on a measured criticism of the way the entire issue has been handled. Instead, you've done all but defend anti-national elements and activities in JNU, using a few goof-ups and a stray incident of mob violence in Patiala Court to divert the issue to irrelevant and abstract domains like concepts of nationalism, saffronization of education and fabricated allegations of intolerance. If you think you're fooling the common citizen with this intellectual sophistry, you're wrong.

All those politicians, intellectuals and media people defending the JNU students and not condemning the anti-India slogans in strong enough terms are coming out as clowns and nothing more.

People will remember the doubtful role of your government in the handling of the Ishrat Jahan case and how your party created false notions of saffron terror.

As regards the Congress, it seems that the current team of jokers is out to destroy a legacy of 125 years. I am telling you this because history is being written and I must say that in a democratic state of the 21st-century this telling will be honest and objective. People will remember the doubtful role of your government in the handling of the Ishrat Jahan case and how your party created false notions of "saffron terror" for vicious political motives. People will also remember that Digvijaya Singh and Kripa Shankar Singh attended the inauguration of the book which argued that 26/11 was the conspiracy of RSS. If the Congress persists on going down this destructive path no one can save it from ruination.

I would go as far as to argue that intelligence agencies must keep an eye on such institutions in the larger interests of India.

Now let me tell you about a real concern. If right in the national capital we have a university where ill-informed, uneducated and misguided students/professors nurture strong sympathies for Naxalites and terrorists then there is a strong likelihood of these places emerging as safe havens for anti-national elements. It is indeed a grave concern for national security. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that intelligence agencies must keep an eye on such institutions in the larger interests of India.

I hope you understand my concerns and listen to your inner conscience. You have always been an inspiration and I hope you emerge as a lighthouse for the Congress by taking a rational and sensible stand on such issues.

Yours sincerely,

Abhinav Pandya

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