Sunday 10 April 2016

How much is too much for anything as freedom of speech?

What should be one’s priority? Freedom of speech or the love for one’s nation? The recent incident at JNU certainly blurred the reality. As per the Indian constitution, the Right to Freedom in Article 19 guarantees the Freedom of Speech and Expression, as one of its six freedoms. But it has also imposed restrictions to make sure that freedom of speech does not lead to defamation. However, at recent times the freedom is highlighted to an extent that it is endangering the country’s pride. People express themselves in any way they feel like even if required in a seditious way but mask it under what they call their Right to protection under Freedom of Speech.
The JNU row provides the perfect example. A demonstration was organized on the college campus on 9th February to commemorate the death of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist who was executed in 2013 for his role in the 2001 attack on India’s Parliament. Though it raised eyebrows but the students got into legal trouble after they allegedly raised anti-Indian slogans to mourn and commemorate the death of Afzal Guru. According to what several media reports, Anti-India slogans like "Kashmir ki azadi tak jung chalegi, Bharat ki barbadi tak jung chalegi" ("War will continue till Kashmir's freedom, war will continue till India's demolition") were reportedly raised at the protest meet. Soon after the university’s student union president Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid were arrested on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy, under section 124 of the Indian Penal Code.
JNU has widely been known for its intense political life on campus. It is believed that the students of the university follow the teachings of B.R. Ambedkar “Educate, organize, agitate”. And thus any issue of concern gets new life within the campus. Now the question which arises is that, does commemorating someone’s death allows the person to shout out defamatory slogans against his own country? One has the right to organize a demonstration as per his free will but that does not mean in any way that the person can go all out to raise slogans pertaining to supposed destruction of one’s country. However, when Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested for shouting anti-national slogans almost the entire campus stood beside him claiming he was just exercising his right to freedom.
Although some videos later emerged which said that Kumar didn’t raise the slogans, but the act of holding a rally to protest against Afzal Guru’s hanging negates the idea of what patriotism is all about. And it’s not sugar coating it. One person, who has proven with his actions and words that he means harm to my nation and could have gone to any lengths to harm my country and its people for his own agenda is being idolized by the students of a university in my country. Yes I understand the societal and other different implications, but there are some lines which should not be crossed, ideally. So, thus when such an institution crossed that thin line, it definitely demeaned our nation in the worldwide stage.

Ipshita Paul

(PG MEDIA 2015-2017)

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