Achhe Din: Disabled Poet Assaulted For Not Standing For National Anthem
NEW DELHI: A disabled poet who represented India in wheelchair tennis was viciously attacked in a cinema hall when he couldn’t stand up for the National Anthem.
Salil Chaturvedi was viciously hit and assaulted at a cinema in Goa. The couple leading the attack later fled. The gentle writer and poet says that following the incident, he is apprehensive to go to the movies. “I just don’t understand why it seems impossible for so many people to express patriotism in a non-aggressive manner,” he told The Times of India. He continued: “I now believe that even if I could stand up during the national anthem, I would rather not, simply because I am being forced to do so. Chaturvedi -- the son of an Air Force veteran -- is an accomplished Indian. He’s the only disabled person to have sailed from Mumbai to Goa in 2009, doing so to draw attention to the issue of equal access. He also represented India in wheelchair tennis in Japan and Australia Opens. "Look at my life choices! Who are you to judge how much I love India?” he correctly says.
And here is the larger point. Even though Chaturvedi could not stand up -- owing to a spinal injury that left him disabled -- the point is that does someone who chooses not to stand up deserve to be assaulted? Is assault, if disability were not a factor, any more justified?
After all, this is not the first time someone has been attacked or punished for not standing during the National Anthem at a cinema hall. In December 2015, a Muslim family was abused and heckled till they left the hall. In January, a Bollywood screenwriter -- Neeraj Pandey -- had to be escorted out by police after things got heated when he didn’t stand for the National Anthem in a movie hall. Also in January, two women were booked for failing to stand up for the anthem at a cinema hall in Mumbai.
Chaturvedi’s ordeal sparked outrage on social media, with many pointing to the fact that the India that we are building is coming to centre itself on jingoism, intolerance and even violence.