The dismal act of shouting anti-India slogans and burning the national flag by a group of youngsters in JNU is no longer limited to its kernel. It might not have spiraled into violence or anti-establishment protest, but people have certainly and yes, courageously started to support the act, shielding it with fundamental rights like freedom of speech and expression.
Last week a video went viral showing a group of youngsters shouting anti-India slogans in the JNU campus.
Before we get into details as of what really happened, it’s absolutely essential for us to define the limits of freedom of speech or expression and at the same time, Section 124 A of IPC. I am certainly not against people opinionating their beliefs and ideologies.
A little background of what happened on Tuesday afternoon in MP’s Singrauli soon after the JNU incident:
Devraj Phogat, Chief Manager at Northern Coal Fields Ltd, supported the ill events that took place in JNU citing it as an act under freedom of speech, a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution to every citizen, even to the most anti-national for that matter. He added that there was nothing wrong in burning the national flag of India as the same had happened in U.S, the same national flag that, to much of these people ignorance, Hanumanthappa and many other soldiers time and again, proudly wore as a shroud defending the nation’s integrity and sovereignty. Probably, he was unaware of the felony charges too.
Not only this, he later supported Naxalism saying that the ultras were fighting for the poor by killing contractors. When a civilian made a counter argument about Naxals killing CRPF personnel, he accused the jawans of being rapists – not one or two, but all of them. All these events unfolded in the premises of the headquarters of Northern Coal Fields Ltd.
And yet again, the fine line between freedom of speech and anti-nationalism was wiped out right there.
Based on an incident or two, Phogat questioned the CRPF personnel’s unparalleled patriotism. By sidelining their sacrifices and contribution, he derogated the identity and the founding principles of a nation.
It has become imperative now to understand, when does an act become anti-national?
The people debating over the JNU incident need to understand the difference between nationalism and anti-national.
Any act, just by merely performing it, cannot be either national or anti national or any other expression (speech, song, dialogue, documentary etc.) just by letting it out in public or private. It’s the large connotation and the symbolism that the act carries with itself that represents whether that act is national or not.
‘National’ – what does this word signify?
A word that upholds the very sanctity and virtues of a nation and its ethos. In our case – the virtues are: Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic republic. And anything, any expression, any act or any gesture that categorically, symbolically or by means of a logical implication, derogates, insults or harms any of these constitutional virtues is anti-national by nature and/or by conduct. These are the five founding principles of our nation – and they are above everything else, even citizens’ rights.
All other acts, no matter how much grave or petite they are, as long as they do not target these founding definitions of our nation, are clearly non anti-national.
Now, is burning the tricolor anti-national?
When you burn a flag, you are not burning a mere piece of cloth. You are burning a nation’s identity, the very symbol of its being. The flag is represented in the world by our soldiers, by diplomats, by sports persons, artists et al. It is carried by every citizen etched in their passport. When you burn it, you are derogating that identity, that founding characteristic of our ‘republic’. And hence, that act becomes anti-national.
Is supporting such an act of anti-nationalism anti-national? Obviously, yes! Just by merely saying ‘what they did was right’, you are either supporting their intention behind it or you believe in the same misunderstood freedom of speech/expression that they do.
The entire saga at JNU has sparked a fierce debate. Just by merely opposing the hanging of Afzal Guru or Kasab for that matter, you are not just slamming and shaming the judiciary, but also hurting the sentiments and showing no respect for the death of several Army jawans who died fighting and protecting civilians like us. Devraj Phogat did exactly the same by calling all CRPF personnel rapists.
If you are unhappy with the ruling, speak out, write, or stop voting! But you are never free to destroy (or even talk about it) the nation which is letting you live, with all the rights and freedom. Those who do it and then claim to idolize Dr. Ambedkar don’t have the slightest idea how Ambedkar would have been hurt if they were to shout ‘India go back’ in front of him.
And our nation is so liberal – calmly upholding your right to defame and destroy it in parts- that you are still safe, breathing, laughing and having your feast even after what you did.
Is it so difficult to understand? Do you not care about the citizens of the nation where you live? Do you not care about the Army of the nation which sacrifices their lives so you breathe in peace? Do you still say that it’s anti-national and defend it with freedom of speech and talk like morons!
I am sorry, sir! You better not cross the fine line. They say it’s leftist, and some blame the right wing for whatever happened at JNU. There’s brewing a slugfest of politics around it. And I don’t care until the hooligans who propelled the act of abusing my mother India are taught a lesson, so that no one ever even dares to think about it. Be it that group at JNU campus or Devraj Phogat.
I am just another citizen and I care for whatever erroneous is happening in any part of the country, be it Delhi, or a remote village.
P.S. I am neither a BJP supporter, nor a Leftist. It’s just that it hurts to live around people who are shameless.
T Sukesh & Amit Nigam