When we aimed for our freedom and were quite willingly awarded with it, 69 years ago, we just didn’t demand freedom from British; we wanted freedom from the idea of never having to ask of it again. We demanded and wanted to evolve from a caged bird to the one who can soar up high in the sky, without the fear or the possibility of being caged again.
Freedom doesn’t just exist when it comes to the ruling perspective; freedom comes in various other colours inclusive of religion, speech and choice. Imposing people with some other religion or choices or asking them to curb their speech, doesn’t entail freedom and just showcases the unwanted yet quite recurring sight of it.
Freedom of expression is the foundation of a democracy. Suppression of speech is anathema. Yet the very basis of a democracy is the rule of the majority, abiding by the popular will and respecting the popular opinion. And therein lies the paradox. A democratic nation is a nation of popular opinion and essentially a majoritarian regime.
If expression through free speech militates against the will of the majority, would it be democratic to permit it? Or is it democratic to permit the words which go on and brand people with the law of sedition, people whose thoughts resonate with just a portion of the thinking population?
Democracy is indeed a paradox, a paradox that tumbles greatly towards the popular notion than towards the controversial ones.
The whole debate is regarding how words like ‘Pakistan is not hell’ is able to invite sedition charges on people who dare say it. Recently, the actor-turned-politician, Ramya who went to visit the country for the SAARC Youth Parliamentarians’ Conference, was awarded with a sedition charge by a lawyer who thought of her comments as ‘insulting India’ and also, provoking the citizens of the country.
Provoking for what, a deeper friendship and meaningful relationship than the one of hate and terror? Provoking the citizens to be a better human by taking the high road in this stupid confrontation we are part of?
Sedition has always been a handy tool for an intolerant government, and the citizens who follow them blindly. The loose wording of Section 124A IPC (a product of mid-19th century British views, including homosexuality, adultery and even an attempt to commit suicide as crimes to be punished) assist this. Sedition, as defined, includes bringing or attempting to bring into hatred, contempt or disaffection the government established by law in India. It is the censorship by a nation, so as to inculcate and strengthen the sense of patriotism and nationalism in any given country.
However, slapping people with the lawsuit of sedition is turning out to be an everyday deal. Amnesty International was also awarded with same, when they resonated their thoughts on violence in Kashmir, and ridiculing the Army for the excessive use of pellet guns.
As I usually say, history repeats itself, and more than progressing with time, we are just paying the past times more visit than we should. Sedition used to happen in British regime when Mahatma Gandhi and the likes of his, used to raise their voice against the British colonial rule, and it is happening now.
For what I have understood, sedition doesn’t mean speaking against the country, nowadays, it means speaking against the popular notion or the party in ruling. After all, since when do we cater to the minority?
Ignorance is passé, it’s time to press the charges of sedition on them with much vigor and enthusiasm. Apparently, you are only Indian when you rebuke Pakistan and its people in general, and yes, of course, Islam too!