In past two weeks, a state was put on ransom because a community wanted to be classified ‘backward’ to freeload on civic liberties, a leading institution got labelled as a breeding ground of anti-nationals by the so-called “nationalists”, and the fourth pillar of a democracy turned into Judge, Jury and Executioner delivering verdicts in a unison with doctored videos as pieces of evidence, while 3 brave soldiers lost their lives defending the nation against the real terrorists. And Irony played its cruel game when one of the martyred was a member of the same community and alumnus of the same institution.
If you follow the news, then you would have inevitably come across the JNU row burning down your newsfeed. Since last week, the country stands divided on the issue. I for one #standwithJNU and call me a traitor, sickular, cockroach or the trending anti-national and I’ll still respect your opinion with a tad bit of derision because that is what freedom of expression sounds like in a truly democratic country.
The JNU row has ripped open a number of issues: how TRP centric Media houses have become less credible and more entertaining than WWE Royal Rumble, how the Modi-led government has decided to tackle the issue of dissent with iron fist rather than open dialogue and how the misinformed public jumps on propaganda bandwagon forming opinion based on unverified information. Being an Indian I too agree, whatever sloganeering took place in JNU was, if not illegal then at least unethical which should be condemned through debates and not through hooliganism. But, also being a student of a democratic India it is even more important for me to express myself even against the government without being labelled an antinational or a terrorist and thrown in jail.
I would like to ask my fellow countrymen who are so eager to shut down JNU, do you even know what prestige the institution holds in the world? It ranks in top 200 universities in the world ranking for social sciences and humanities. Our obsession with IIT and IIM’s have made us ignore these subjects but without JNU, there won’t be any masters in foreign policy or social sciences which the whole world recognizes. Due to a handful of people’s sloganeering is it right to brand the entire institution of 7000 students, a terrorist breeding ground? Does common sense so uncommon? Well, given the outrage it seems so. JNU administration along with the students never sponsored the anti-Indian slogans and had come out furiously condemning the Afzal Guru hanging protests. But we stand against the “fall in line or else get beaten by mob” mentality.
Narendra Modi’s only tweet addressing the havoc of the past two weeks that has even had NYT publishing an op-ed regarding the deteriorating condition of the freedom of expression in India was that some people are conspiring against the government and trying to “defame me”. Sir, the nation is burning, the students on whose shoulders’ rest the future of this country gets beaten within the judicial premises, and all you are concerned about is your image. Talk about being self-centered.
We do not know how long the road is and how low the government will stoop to ‘weed out’ criticism but the war against theocratic fascism has begun. The battle between the united, conscious young Indians whose only war drums are protests, dissent, and constitution stand against an army of ignorantly regressive fascists, whose weapon against any dissent is the tag of anti-nationalism, Hindutva ideology, and when nothing works the last resort of waving the list of sacrifices made by our soldiers in the face of young Indians. But the youth will endeavour as it always has.
Jai Hind, Jai Bharat
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