Away from the eyes of mainstream media, Bhukhamp Bhaiya asks if JNU was seditious or unnatural, and if freedom of expression is a right of the Individual, or a right of the Indian.
The students of Delhi’s legendary Jawaharlal Nehru University decided to ‘celebrate’ the death anniversary of Afzal Guru who was convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack and later hanged on 9th February 2013. Since then, JNU from a place of education, has transformed itself into a vessel for conversation in every household today and more of a concern for the government.
The students called his hanging ‘judicial killing’ and organized an event in his memory. This cultural celebration was quite the bitter pill for authorities, and mainstream media where the students were termed anti-national. Zee News aired footages of students raising slogans like ‘Pakistan Zindaabaad’ and ‘Bharat Ki Barbaadi Tak Jang Rahegi’, fanning angry nationalism across the country.
In other words – another media trial. Another case in which we’ve found – by our remotes – these students guilty, without trial.
The JNUSU president Kanhaiya Lal Kumar and another student by the name Umar Khalid were subsequently arrested on charges of sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The reason I emphasize on the year of the act is because it is important for us to know how archaic the laws in India are. It’s rather convenient to have these laws to quote when you’re questioned about grounds of arrest. But has nothing evolved since the rule of our benevolent British Masters in 1860?
What is our definition of Sedition or Freedom of Expression, is what this event urges us to ask. What it’s become is a convenient way for the BJP government to peddle its nationalism and patriotism to make the ‘right’ presence strong because the right is always right.
What they didn’t count for, was the slow momentum that Indi’s left has been gathering. Investigation proved that most of Zee’s footage was doctored, which meant that there was no substantial evidence to arrest the students. Which meant in turn, no evidence to prove Kanhaiya Kumar’s involvement unless we want to say that he’s their leader and must hence take responsibility. By those standards, Modi should be arrested for Godhra, as involved or not, he was their leader and the Chief Minister of Gujarat
A journalist was also beaten up by a BJP MLA outside the Patiala House Court after which the entire media covered the story differently. By now journalists who had earlier called these students anti-national changed their stance. All, except our very own Arnab Goswami. The JNU incident has become more of an embarrassment to him than it is to the government.
The lesson to take away, lies somewhere between common sense and meditation. It would have been rather interesting if Arnab Da, given the platform he has, would have discussed and debated the issue. If there was any element of truth in the footage then we could have asked how the students raised such slogans in a campus where their tuition fees was taken care of by the taxpayer. The question then would be on freedom of expression, but at the altar of moral standards.
In modern times the term “unrest” has had a negative connotation, with gun barrels, and blood on concrete surfacing in our mind. But I disagree. It is that unrest that makes us realize the power of democracy. Unrest, in the form of a silent protest and not a riot.
Whether JNU was ‘unrest’ towards a greater good is up to your judgement, but we do realise now, that perhaps we can ask for our fundamental rights only when we express it in the right manner.