NEW DELHI: When a murder is applauded on social media, you know your country is in trouble and the hatred simmering within is reaching a boiling point. Murder most foul is no answer to silence a brave contrarian voice.

A society thrives and grows only when different views and ideologies are respected and heard. You don’t have to agree to everything but you can certainly give it a patient hearing. Agree to disagree but don’t take it to another level that only leaves everyone in a state of flux and thereafter leads to heinous killings.

This is another level of hatred and venom that is indigestible. I for one cannot accept it. It is actually sickening to see so-called educated people writing filth and using gutter language against a woman whose only fault lies in being brave, bright, independent, articulate and strong enough to having her own opinions and voicing them without getting side-tracked.

Social media unfortunately is now mostly full of trolls that think they know best and are the best and pass judgement with their holier than thou attitude without understanding a particular situation or ideology. On the contrary they know nothing and are the worst forms of low-life that are unaccepting of anything other than what their closed minds have been told.

Every individual has the right to exercise an opinion. This is called democracy. India is a democratic nation still even with all the wrong that is happening in the last few years and people being pushed to be conformists rather than thinkers. Gauri Lankesh, chose to work for the cause she felt was right…she chose to speak up and she chose to stand up for her beliefs.

The countrywide outrage that her killing has evoked is yet another proof that people from so many diverse cultures and regions have not been silenced and are standing up for the basic right to express an opinion. Yes, democracy is alive and this is how it should be!

We all have to stand up for what we believe in – we cannot please everybody and we don’t have to agree to another’s opinion but yes, we do have a right to voice our thoughts, fight for our rights, for what we have faith in and together we can all be upholders of just causes.

I believe, regardless of the consequences… The fight must go on! You cannot silence democracy – you just cannot! Each one of us has to fight the communalism, religious intolerance, discrimination and hatred that is being spread in our beautiful country. Such murders are a blot on the name of freedom of speech and expression.

We as a society have to decide whether we are going to allow people to openly exchange views and ideas or allow extremists and gun-wielding thugs to thrive. There is a growing culture of intolerance and hate. Politics of division on the basis of identity, ideology, religion and caste should not be allowed to come in the way of liberal values and individual rights and freedom.

Why is that citizens these days are openly speaking of a feeling of unease and that a sense of insecurity is creeping in? India as a liberal democracy has to compete with itself and has to once again shine.

Recently, our courts in one voice said that the right to live with human dignity is so fundamental that it permeates the core of all fundamental rights. This right to dignity means individual autonomy and includes the right to take vital decisions. Privacy too was held as a facet of dignity and everyone is free to decide what to eat, what to wear, which religion to follow and, of course, what to write or speak etc.

Our Supreme Court has taken liberty or freedom to a very high pedestal in the privacy judgment. It is the fear rather than actual direct interference with freedom which has the greatest adverse effect on liberty.

My wish is that governments in power should desist from creating fear in the minds of citizens. They need to step in at this point and show that we still believe in diversity and secularism and that India needs every citizen in this inclusive society of ours and this heinous act must be condemned.