It's been almost two weeks since the arrest of JNU student union president, Kanhaiya Kumar, provoked a nationwide uproar. Since then, everybody has exploited the situation to suit their own narratives rather than reference to context, and what started as a student union protest against the ABVP turned into a political game amplified and sensationalized by the media.
I am an active member of the BJP member and have worked for the party. I am also affiliated with the RSS/Durgavahini. I have visited the highly controversial RSS headquarters in Jhandewalan too, and no one tried to strangle me for having a Muslim father, a Christian godfather and a Punjabi best friend. Imagine my disappointment because all I ever knew of that place was that it sheltered Hindu extremists. Being affiliated with them doesn't change the fact that I am an Indian first and I respect all the religions. Every Indian is my brother or sister. I have worn a T-shirt with INDIA written on the back when I represented my country at the Asian Games in China and I understand the pride and honour connected to it. This piece of information was important to enlighten you with regard to my stand. So what's my stand?
I don't agree with the content of his speech. And not because his speech was 'anti-national' but because his views are different from mine on RSS and BJP.
I stand against the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar on grounds of sedition. Say what? Yes that's true. I stand against his arrest even though I don't necessarily agree with the content of his speech. And not because his speech was "anti-national" but because his views are different from mine on RSS ideologies and the BJP government. As simple as this. Difference in opinions. You keep yours and I stick to mine but we both have the freedom to express those views.
Why I am protesting his arrest is because he was booked on serious sedition and conspiracy charges. We students raise our voices on everything that bothers us. Standard student idiosyncrasy worldwide. Protests are mostly large-scale and almost always include uninvited elements. In Kanhaiya's case these elements were those who raised provocative slogans mentioning Afzal Guru, a terrorist who was hanged three years ago by the UPA government. These provocative slogans are common if you were to travel to Kashmir. Therefore, I would have expected everyone to treat this incident as a law and order issue. All the police needed to do was file a chargesheet and leave it to the court to decide if the charges deserved any merit. Hypothetically this should have been the standard plan of action but instead they arrested Kanhaiya. This grave mishandling of the issue has done nothing but fuelled the 'crab mentality' propaganda of the extremists and has put the ball in their court.
India is a diverse country with even more diverse opinions. The government needed to take action against those who raised the slogans and not Kanhaiya because then the entire perspective changes on the issue. It is perceived globally now that 'freedom of speech and expression' is a myth in India.
We don't want to give the world the image of India as a neoliberal disaster of a country that is heading towards a totalitarian regime.
The sedition law embraces all the practices, whether spoken or in writing, which are calculated to disturb the tranquility of the State and subvert the government. Kanhaiya's speech had no 'anti-national' element in it. And everyone from JNU, including Kanhaiya himself, condemns the raising of 'anti-national' slogans during the protest. Then why such delay in his bail? Why accuse Kanhaiya of being anti-national, a traitor? Even if he was wrong and had little understanding about our country's heroes and Constitution, the onus is on the government to guide him with the truth rather than punish him for being deluded. We don't want to give the world the image of India as a neoliberal disaster of a country that is heading towards a totalitarian regime.
PS. Please note that I am voicing these opinions because I am practicing my freedom of speech and expression. I have no script from any RSS office.
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