Typing Test


We cannot believe that Universities in this country are hallowed ground where students, no matter who they are, can openly promote a convicted terrorist as a martyr, call his court-mandated execution a 'judicial killing', and not be accused of sedition. We cheer when separatists in J&K are charged with sedition for demanding the secession of Kashmir to Pakistan, yet the same sentiment and the terrorism it breeds cannot be treated with care under the garb of freedom of expression when pitched at a University.The case is clear. Some JNU students have been charged with sedition for eulogising Afzal Guru and shouting slogans calling for the breakup of India. The JNUSU President has been arrested as part of the investigation into how the event was allowed despite an order against it by the JNU authorities. The bigger issue is that the politics and media narratives surrounding cases like this regularly augur threats to tolerance, democracy and freedom. There is alarm in the absence of peril, where these sacred ideals are converted into mere punchlines and elements of politicking. The narrative previously emerged during the so-called 'church attacks' where the Centre was accused of pushing fringe elements against minority groups, after which all cases were found to be petty crimes. It emerged in the aftermath of the Dadri and Kalburgi killings, where the state governments, the custodians of law and order in their areas, continue to be exonerated of any responsibility. Even in the Ishrat Jahan case, the Modi government in Gujarat was accused of murdering an innocent Muslim girl despite an Intelligence Bureau alert citing her links with the LeT, now backed by David Headley's deposition in a Mumbai court. Multiple cases in this country have become fodder to promote the 'threat to democracy' narrative against the Modi government, which sooner or later comes to a grinding halt. Opposition parties and activists go silent waiting for public amnesia to kick-in, while the media can always move on to another story, the 24-hour cycle wiping the slate clean for all involved. American novelist and philosopher Philip Roth once spoke of the tragedy of the 'intelligentsia' in an environment of freedom. According to him, such writers and activists feel that "without an authoritarian environment imaginative possibilities are curtailed and one's seriousness is open to question". He adds, "There is always a looming menace that evokes its own forms of deprivation and suffering, and that is the creeping trivialisation of everything in a society where freedom of expression is anything but compressed". In such scenarios, as we have seen in JNU, protest is particularly susceptible to political hijacking, as one tends to legitimise the other, regardless of the pursuit of justice and the rule of law. The frequency of the 'intolerance' narrative ever since Narendra Modi's ascension shows how political opposition is also being masqueraded as the defence of civil liberties, where the farce is being promoted that violent communal forces have taken a bold leap only since the BJP came to power. It is the curse of the BJP that their base identity makes it easier to brand them as the sole custodians of 'intolerance' and 'communalism' even though they are not exclusive to the party. Does the Opposition, intelligentsia and media truly believe we live in an 'undeclared' Emergency? Is there a democratic crisis in a country where a sitting Chief Minister can call the Prime Minister a 'psychopath', news channels, newspapers and citizens can openly debate and criticise the Centre, Opposition parties can stall Parliament, and the Supreme Court can strike down Central legislation calling it unconstitutional? Can we truly say that we are being oppressed? The sedition law has been used on flimsy grounds in the past against cartoonists highlighting corruption and even against students cheering for Pakistan in a cricket match. The JNU case is not the same. The charges are strong a