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RAJINDER SACHAR | 24 FEBRUARY, 2016

A DANGER TO DEMOCRACY


NEW DELHI: There is a figurative way of attributing intense stupidity to an individual or a political party in the idiom, ‘He is own worst enemy’. This occurred to me by the idiotic way BJP Central Government has handled the recent student protest at JNU. According to Union, a meeting was held in the campus by some outsiders wherein slogan favoring Afzal Guru were raised by them. Students maintain that they condemned these slogans and they can not be blamed. In the normal course protest would have passed off without any problem and forgotten.

But then a curious turn of events which one suspects was a planned conspiracy by the BJP and its student wing ABVSP. Mahesh Giri M.P. (Delhi) and its student wing filed a complaint before the police, which registered a case of sedition against unknown persons. It is impossible to accept that the police will act so unprofessionally except under political pressure.

A further mystery was added by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh statement that Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the Head of internationally known terrorist group situated in Pakistan who was said to be responsible for various terrorists attacks in India including the recent one at Pathankot was so short of work that he has had to stoop to provoke JNU students in order to boost the morale of his followers - how nitwit can be our NIA (National Investigation Agency).

Since then, it is quite clear that this incident at JNU is being exploited by the BJPs dirty tricks campaign cell to malign the opponents of BJP and cause permanent danger to the internationally respected University. The latest rowdyism and violence by B.J.P. affiliated lawyers in even threatening Lady Journalists and even beating Students and in not allowing the court proceedings at Patiala House is shameful .

To add further shame, Seniors Advocates sent by Supreme Court are abused and not allowed to carry out its mandate. Hard to believe this conduct of juniors lawyers could have been done excepting at the mandate of BJP high ups to defile our judicial system. Would Government consider such acts as treason and take action (not according to my view of law) but on same view taken by the government in J.N.U. case.

It is needless to repeat that all earlier allegation at what happened at JNU on 13th Feb 2016 pales into insignificance at what BJP controlled elements are doing to spread fear under the cover of fighting sedition - no private persons can take the law in its own hand – it is only the State which can so Act - no bunch of self appointed false patriots can defy the law. As it is even Police action is vindictive and illegal. It is well settled by Supreme Court decisions that mere speech howsoever strong against the government is not sedition, unless accompanied by some violent act, of which there is not even a whisper against students. Let me quote what Gandhiji said when he was prosecuted for sedition in 1922 “Section 124A i.e. under which I am happily charged is perhaps the prince among the political section of IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen; affection can not be manufacture or regulated by the law. If one has no affection for a person, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote or incite to violence”. (emphasis supplied)

Let the BJP not trout its patriotism because this noble sentiment is so cynically exploited by politicians that it made the English writer Samuel Johnson giving a warning “Patriotism is the last refuge of a Scoundrel”.

Human Rights can never be violated under any circumstances. Let me quote the warning given by the US media within a couple of days of September 11, 2001 massive tragedy; Washington Post wrote “the country cannot allow terrorists to alter the fundamental openness of US society or the Government’s respect for civil liberties.”

Philadelphia Inquirer wrote “We feel rage. We feel fear. We are bewildered. We can’t avoid acting on those feelings. Yet we must calibrate our response against the ideals of liberty and tolerance that have made this nation work so well for so long.”

Thus Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington office criticized the U.S. Patriot Act thus; “this law is based on the faulty assumption that safety must come at the expense of civil liberties”.

Mr. Muggeridge, former Editor of Punch (UK) once warned – “the choice for us is between security and freedom. And if we ever ceased to prefer the later, we should soon find that we had nothing of any worth left to secure anyway.”

BJP antipathy to freedom of Speech has now international condemnation but also has led to anti BJP rallies throughout India.

In this matter of JNU the top of B.J.P. leadership has acted so stupidly that it has allowed congress and Rahul Gandhi to be seen as champions of dignity of Afzal Guru and Kashmir, when in reality the conduct and action in the case of Afzal Guru by the Congress in the past had incurred it massive condemnation in J&K when it ignored the appeal of large section of abolitionists of death penalty not to hang Guru. But the most shameful part was when Congress hanged him in utter secrecy, against the well accepted law that convicts family must be allowed a last opportunity to meet him before execution.

Massive protests then demanded an innocuous and justified request to be allowed to take Guru’s body to be cremated according to tradition at the family graveyard in Kashmir. But Congress / UPA government rejected it cynically because of pending General Elections in India. J&K people never forgave Congress as results of latest state J&K elections have shown. Likewise B.J.P. false pretence of patriotism when it is having a coalition with Mufti of P.D.P. in J&K, which has always condemned the action taken against Afzal Guru. In that context BJP Government’s dishonesty in proceedings against JNU Students in the name of Patriotism is the limit of hypocrisy in politics.

The happenings in Patiala House Courts would have pleased Marx who envisaged the ultimate victory of proletariat when “State will wither away”. This having not even happened in USSR and Mao China, has occurred in India – this is the only excuse which Modi Government can put forward at its shameful spectacle of having to carry Kanayahia from the court to prison in a disguise and in a closed police van protected by hundred of policemen for the fear of the police being overwhelmed by a coterie of B.J.P. lawyers and other goons from the custody of mighty Indian State.

(Rajindar Sachar is a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.[He was a member of United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. He is founder member of the People's Union for Civil Liberties. He authored the Sachar Committee report on the socio-economic status of Muslims in India. This article expresses his own strong views on the current developments).

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