There are many words like dissent, freedom of speech, secularism, and sedition which have been misusing since independence. Everyone has their own definitions and theory to define it. I don’t think so that alarming sounds for Pakistan, Terrorists, and separatists, etc. is a kind of freedom of speech.
One can talk and share their difference of opinion on such issue, but in a systematic way under the constitutional framework. Since Freedom of speech is understood to be fundamental in a democracy everyone has the right to express his views without fear of government retaliation or censorship. What happened at JNU campus was really unfortunate, no one could deny.
But as I think the things which happened after that was more unfortunate. I am saying so because it is not true that if Supreme Court sentences something would be the last word of the story. Anybody can talk and debate over it but not in the way in which they did. Let me inform you that a few days back a youngster from Pakistan hoisted the Indian flag in Pakistan in order to support Virat Kohli, has been charged with punishment for 10 years in jail. No Nation would accept this kind of activity except India. But I am still confused with the apprehension of Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar. I think it is almost certain that Kanhaiya Kumar won’t get convicted for sedition.
This is not the new thing in enforcement history that real culprits never get arrested at the time of incident. Kanhaiya says that he does not believe in that activities which have been done during cultural meet. He condemned that activities by conducting press conference, even Deepak Chaurasiya asked to tell ‘Bharat mata ki jay’, ‘Kashmir bharat ka akhand hissa hai’ etc. He did that also. But still I don’t think so that, these sorts of words would be the yardstick to measure nationalism.
I shocked by the so-called journalist Deepak Chaurasiya’s Yardstick. The accent of protesting is very much different because eastern students never speak ‘भारत’ as a बारत. It is really not good for our society also, in which our media is structuring the issue in a strange fashion in order to accumulate TRP. The things on which they should emphasize more are being left continuously. Whole processes must be followed by the judicial process. There has been sharp criticism of the coverage and the ‘trial by media’, with several news organizations being accused of bias and toeing the establishment’s line and others of siding with those opposed to the government.
A former Supreme Court judge Justice Faizanuddin, who, in 1995, along with Justice A S Anand delivered the benchmark judgment on the issue of sedition and what constitutes sedition in the Balwant Singh and another versus State of Punjab case (1995) says “The case against Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar does not amount to sedition. India is the largest democracy in the world. Something or the other is said every day in some corner of the vast country. Are we to be affected by this? What is going to happen to us by mere rising of slogans? I find it laughable.” I also believe in his words. We are having a country of strong and successful democracy.
These sorts of words would not shatter our country in pieces. There are two words ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Patriotism’, both words are mutually exclusive. There is a difference between Patriotism and Nationalism, particularly it becomes extra nationalism. Nationalism is supposed to that case where if I say ‘My nation is always right whatever it is’. Patriotism is the thing where there is a space of dissents. I can say like ‘I am disagreeing with certain things of my nation but I still love my nation’. In the case of JNU issue whole momenta has shifted from Patriotism to nationalism where most of the people say like ‘My country is always right’.
One more thing is coming to the central debate on JNU regarding Armed forces. I am again saying that I am also proud of our armed forces but our armed forces do not define patriotism. Political parties are introducing that matter of Armed forces forcefully into JNU debate in order to win the emotions of the public but that is irrelevant thing or you can also say that these are also mutually exclusive things. Armed forces should not be used in political arena. Since Armed forces don’t fight only for Indian Territory but also for our Indian values. We all people of India are a part of those values. One more thing sounds bad regarding JNU where people are tweeting to shut down JNU.
It has been structured by the media that JNU is a kind of different universe where only Naxal generates. Even one of the well-educated BJP leader Subhamaniyam Swami has termed the full form of JNU as ‘Jihadi Naxali University’. Many people are looking JNU as a threat to the national security. But I would like to draw your kind attention that current foreign secretary has been the alumni of that JNU.
Similarly, JNU produced a combination of secretaries even National Security advisors to the nation. A couple of politicians and journalists have been produced by the same JNU. Every field JNU has contributed as well. JNU gives sounds to the marginalized group to speak over it. It has been a kind of achievement where students, especially first-generation learners would get opportunities to hold the highest political power of the college as president. This sort of thing happens only in that college.
Apart from these things JNU did many things well. Particularly social assessments and the research papers done by the students are really admirable. That is the reason why sharp brains have been coming out from that college for many years. But one more thing which was not good at that campus was coverage of media. Media Structured and preached the whole scenario in very dramatic and denouncing way.
We learn basic thing about the media that it is the fourth pillar of Indian democracy. Often we see the media reporting something that is based on ‘unsubstantiated’ news lead and putting it out as ‘Breaking News’. That’s why I told very earlier that what happened at JNU was unfortunate but what happened after that incident, how media preached the news, how spokespersons from different political parties reacted over it, was more unfortunate.
Media created chaos in the society where almost all media channels deviated from their principle and start covering debate in a very polarized way. Media had already decided students as traitors and it seemed like that there was no need of any court judgment at all because media has sentenced their verdicts. Even people started supposing like that. No any media channels waited for the authentication of the videos. Even students from the ABVP started sending older videos to the news in order to make their part very strong. I have seen at many channels where they told the source of the videos as ABVP so that they would get rid from the responsibilities.
As we know TRPs play an important role in determining the future of the channel. In other words we can say that TRPs are the internal assessments of their exams. Some students do cheating in examinations order to score good marks. They don’t care about the ways of scoring marks whether it is good or bad. In the same fashion media did the same thing in case of JNU row.
The media did not care about the principle of journalism and imposed the charge of sedition on students on their own, which is a very unfortunate incident. In short, I can say that there was an absence of a moderator in the whole debate, that’s why it could not become balance debate over time. Understanding the word ‘sedition’ has been also a very awful experience for me in the case of JNU to get it in a better manner. I am telling what the meaning of sedition in India is after independence.
- In 2012, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was charged with sedition for drawing cartoons that commented on corruption scandals of the Manmohan Singh government.
- Writer Arundhati Roy, when charged with sedition for advocating right to self-determination in Kashmir, quoted Nehru as having advocated the same.
- As early as 1953, the Bihar government used the sedition law against tribals demanding a separate state. That state exists today, called Jharkhand.
- A singer Kovan who sang song against the chief minister of Tamilnadu has been alleged the charge of sedition over him.
- The Britishers gave India the sedition law in 1860, to be able to detain those who spoke against the colonial government. In 2010, the British parliament repealed the sedition law. Now it is time for India to rethink sedition law, too.