In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- AUDIO: Muslims warned of ‘final battle’ at Sangh Parivar meeting, MoS Katheria says ‘we’ve to show our strength’
- 34 US lawmakers express concerns over violence against minorities, write to Modi
- GK Pillai claims intel mole lured Ishrat group to Gujarat, UPA faces heat
- ‘Were Your Men Sleeping?’ Cops Asked To Explain JNU Hearing Violence
- Lucknow University professor shares piece on Umar Khalid, ABVP burns effigy, blocks classes
- JNU Row: Smriti’s Durga Puja Reference Causes Uproar in Parliament
- Threats for foreign academics supporting JNU protests
- SIT officer breaks silence: Ishrat killing was premeditated murder
- ‘Cops told us to be quiet for sake of honour’: Survivors of Murthal describe their gangrape ordeal
- Rohith’s mother has a request for Smriti Irani: Stop spreading lies
Opinions & Editorials
- A Danger to Democracy – By Rajinder Sachar
- My father was in RSS, why I dread men in khakhi knickers – By N Jayaram
- Smriti Irani humiliates AMU’s VC, adamant to close down all Aligarh Muslim University Centres – By Zafarul-Islam Khan
- Asatyameva Jayate: Long Live Joseph Goebbels – By Anand Teltumbde
- Haryana Jat Stir for Jobs Cuts Into Propaganda of ‘Nationalism’ – Editorial
- Orwellian Nightmare – Editorial
AUDIO: Muslims warned of ‘final battle’ at Sangh Parivar meeting, MoS Katheria says ‘we’ve to show our strength’ (Mar 1, 2016, Indian Express)
Muslims were equated to “demons” and “descendants of Ravana”, and warned of a “final battle”, as the Sangh Parivar Sunday held a condolence meeting here for VHP worker Arun Mahaur, who was killed last week allegedly by some Muslim youths. Among those present on the dais were Union Minister of State, HRD, and BJP Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria as well as the BJP’s Fatehpur Sikri MP Babu Lal, apart from other party local leaders, who joined in the threats to Muslims.
Speaker after speaker urged Hindus to “corner Muslims and destroy the demons (rakshas)”, while declaring that “all preparations” had been made to effect “badla (revenge)” before the 13th-day death rituals for Mahaur. “Human skulls would be offered to his martyrdom,” VHP district secretary Ashok Lavania, who has been jailed earlier for assaults on Muslims, said.
Talking about the coming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, local BJP MLA Jagan Prasad Garg told the crowd, “You will have to fire bullets, you will have to take up rifles, you will have to wield knives. Elections are approaching in 2017, begin showing your strength from now onwards.” The 5,000-odd crowd chanted slogans such as “Jis Hindu ka khoon na khaule, khoon nahin wo pani hai (the Hindu who doesn’t get angry isn’t Hindu enough)”. VHP general secretary Surendra Jain and Bajrang Dal leaders were also present at the meeting, that was held under heavy security.…
- Agra hate speech: 3 booked, Katheria’s name missing from police complaint (Mar 1, 2016, India Today)
- 5 circulate hate DVD on ‘jihad’, booked (Feb 28, 2016, Times of India)
- Ban RSS, India’s no 1 terror organisation: Former Maharashtra cop (Feb 24, 2016, Hindustan Times)
- BJP Transforming Secular India Into ‘Fascistic’ Hindu Rashtra: Yechury (Feb 23, 2016, New Indian Express)
34 US lawmakers express concerns over violence against minorities, write to Modi (Feb 28, 2016, Hindustan Times)
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 34 US lawmakers have expressed “grave concerns” over “increasing intolerance and violence” against members of minority communities in India.
“Our strong support of this partnership (India-US partnership) encourages us to relay our grave concerns about the increasing intolerance and violence members of India’s religious minority communities experience,” said the lawmakers in a letter sent Friday.
“We urge your government to take immediate steps to ensure that the fundamental rights of religious minorities are protected and that the perpetrators of violence are held to account.” The letter released by The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus of the House of Representatives, was signed by eight senators and 26 members of the House, from both parties.…
- India sees rise in communal violence, UP leads states (Feb 24, 2016, Times of India)
- ‘Sangh Parivar videos threaten communal peace’ (Feb 25, 2016, The Hindu)
- Gujarat riots echo at Hyderabad University (Feb 29, 2016, Deccan Chronicle)
- SC rejects Swamy’s plea for Ram temple at Ayodhya (Feb 27, 2016, The Tribune)
GK Pillai claims intel mole lured Ishrat group to Gujarat, UPA faces heat (Feb 27, 2016, Indian Express)
Former Union Home Secretary G K Pillai’s admission that the June 2004 killing of Ishrat Jahan and three other alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in Gujarat, under the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was the result of an intelligence entrapment operation could lead to the questioning of key figures in the UPA’s security establishment, an authoritative intelligence source familiar with the case has told The Indian Express.
“If Pillai is correct in saying that the alleged terrorists were lured to India by the Intelligence Bureau,” the official said, “then it stands to reason that those involved in this operation would have more than passing knowledge of the circumstances of their death.”
Then Intelligence Bureau chief K P Singh and former Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu, then joint director in charge of counter-terrorism operations, both had a direct role in the operation, the source said. Former West Bengal governor M K Narayanan, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s advisor on internal security, was also briefed on the course of the operation.…
- Ishrat Jahan case: Former under secy says he was coerced to file second affidavit, burnt with cigarettes (Mar 1, 2016, First Post)
- Ishrat Jahan encounter: Chidambaram under fire as former home secys allege gross cover up (Mar 1, 2016, Indian Express)
- Union Home Ministry to re-examine Ishrat Jahan files (Mar 1, 2016, The Hindu)
- GK Pillai in 2013: Don’t think there is any evidence against Ishrat Jahan (Mar 4, 2016, Indian Express)
Confronted by a team of lawyers sent by the Supreme Court, policemen failed to explain the violence that erupted for the second time at Delhi’s Patiala House Courts last week, when arrested JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar was assaulted while being produced for his hearing.
In a video filmed by Haren Rawal, one of the lawyers sent to the court last Wednesday for a ground assessment, Kanhaiya Kumar stated that he was brutally assaulted. “I was punched, kicked, thrown to the ground,” he said. The man who attacked him was then allowed to walk away by policemen in the court, the 28-year-old student and a professor from JNU said, which drew furious reactions from the group of six senior lawyers.
“How do you allow the attack to take place in court premises? Your men are posted everywhere? So what were they doing? Sleeping?” – the video shows a policeman being asked in front of the panel that included senior advocates Rajeev Dhawan, Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave and Haren Rawal. “How can he (the attacker) go away from the court premises? Do your men have instructions not to intervene?” – bombarded by these questions, the policemen appeared to squirm and mumble.…
- Watch: Kanhaiya Kumar was almost disrobed during the attack; Delhi police didn’t lift a finger (Feb 27, 2016, First Post)
- Ignored by media and politicians, Geelani’s family suffers in silence (Feb 28, 2016, The Hindu)
- JNU row: Rahul, Kejriwal, Yechury, D Raja among 9 booked for sedition (Feb 28, 2016, Hindustan Times)
- High Court asks Delhi Police: Do you know what sedition is? (Mar 1, 2016, Indian Express)
Lucknow University professor shares piece on Umar Khalid, ABVP burns effigy, blocks classes (Feb 25, 2016, Indian Express)
Students affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) disrupted classes at the Lucknow University (LU) on Wednesday to protest against a professor who shared an article, “Umar Khalid, my son”, that appeared in The Indian Express on February 23, on his Facebook page.
The article was written by columnist and Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand. Snapshots of Professor Rajesh Misra’s Facebook page, on which he had shared the article, were circulated on campus through social media.
The students protested outside the Sociology Department, where Misra teaches, burnt his effigy, and demanded action against him. The ABVP student leaders also submitted a memorandum to Vice-Chancellor S B Nimse.…
- SIO students attacked for running #StandWithJNU campaign (Feb 24, 2016, Times of India)
- WPI activists held for protesting JNU student leader arrest (Feb 29, 2016, India Today)
- Shops refuse to copy pro-Kanhaiya material, say police ordered them (Mar 1, 2016, Hindustan Times)
- Lawyers march for action against lawyers who assaulted Kanhaiya, journalists (Feb 25, 2016, Indian Express)
JNU Row: Smriti’s Durga Puja Reference Causes Uproar in Parliament (Feb 25, 2016, New Indian Express)
For the second straight day, HRD Minister Smriti Irani today made a strong defence of the government’s actions with regard to JNU issue and suicide of Dalit student in Hyderabad University in the face of intense attack by the opposition which alleged that attempts were being made to suppress dissent.…
Her reply to a short duration discussion, however, was cut short as the House was abruptly adjourned after uproar over her certain comments which she made while alleging that some elements in JNU had published derogatory pamphlets about Goddess Durga.
As she narrated the descriptive details of the pamphlets, Anand Sharma of Congress took objection, saying it could set a precedent and in future somebody else could repeat it with regard to Gods of other religions.…
- Durga row: Sadly, no one questioned Smriti Irani who the Asuras are (Feb 28, 2016, Hindustan Times)
- Smriti’s Feisty Speech on Durga Triggers Demand for Apology (Feb 26, 2016, New Indian Express)
- ‘How Opportunistic and Irreponsible can you get, Madame Irani?’ (Feb 27, 2016, Sabrang India)
- Scindia’s speech vs Irani’s speech: RSS, O P Sharma, Godse deleted in House records, JNU students stay (Feb 26, 2016, Indian Express)
Foreign academics supporting the JNU students’ protest received threatening letters and emails. Rohan D’ Souza, a professor at the graduate school of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, said, “Many of my colleagues abroad who have signed statements in support of JNU have received generic letters threatening them.”
One letter written from Toronto was titled ‘Direct response to your stupidity in signing that solidarity statement with Kanhaiya Kumar’.
“I am writing you directly to highlight your stupidity and naivete in signing that solidarity statement with the JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others charged with sedition earlier this month,” it said. The letter even dubs the academics as forces “breaking India”.…
- TV news anchor gets 2,000 threat calls after discussion on Mahishasur Jayanti, 5 arrested (Mar 1, 2016, Indian Express)
- Journalist gets threat calls after controversial remark on Goddess Durga (Feb 29, 2016, India Today)
- Malayalam TV anchor on Mahishasur Jayanti debate and what led to threat calls (Mar 1, 2016, Dailyo.in)
- JNU row: Threats flow over phone, email, social media (Mar 1, 2016, Indian Express)
Breaking his silence on the Ishrat Jahan case, Satish Verma, the IPS officer who assisted the CBI probe into the alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, on Wednesday said her killing was a “premeditated murder”.
“Our investigation has found that Ishrat along with three others had been picked by IB (Intelligence Bureau) days before the encounter. In fact, there was no intelligence input with the IB that a woman would be accompanying the alleged terrorists. There was no input on Ishrat. These people were kept in illegal custody and then shot dead,” Verma told The Indian Express.…
Mumbra girl Ishrat was killed along with three men on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. It was alleged that they were members of a Lashkar-e-Toiba group. Last week, former Home Secretary G K Pillai told Times Now that the alleged Lashkar group was lured by the IB to Gujarat in 2004.…
- SC to Consider Contempt Plea Against Chidambaram in Ishrat Jahan Fake Encounter Case (Mar 1, 2016, The Wire)
- Ishrat encounter: Ex-home secy Pillai ‘equally responsible’ for UPA’s affidavit change, says Chidambaram (Mar 1, 2016, Indian Express)
- Ishrat Jahan case: CBI director mum on Headley’s revelation (Mar 1, 2016, DNA India)
- SC to study plea to close Ishrat case trial (Mar 1, 2016, The Wire)
‘Cops told us to be quiet for sake of honour’: Survivors of Murthal describe their gangrape ordeal (Feb 29, 2016, First Post)
Amid continuous police denial, two victims came forward and described the ordeal they suffered on the Murthal highway on the evening of 22 February when Jat protesters – who were agitating to press the government to accept their demand for reservation in government jobs – allegedly assaulted them sexually along with several others. They also disclosed the conspiracy of silence hatched by the cops, who allegedly discouraged them from reporting the matter ‘for the sake of their honour’.
Keeping in view the safety and privacy of the victims (as per their request), their locations have been withheld. “Along with my husband, I was on way back to home from Delhi when our bus was stopped by the rioters a kilometre away from Sukhdev Dhaba (a famous eatery). My husband and I, along with several others were dragged out and taken to a lonely roadside field, where I was gangraped till the time I lost consciousness. The other women in the bus met the same fate. …,” the 27-year-old victim told Firstpost.
Asked why she did not file an FIR, she said the priority for her and her husband was to save themselves first and leave the place. “Even worse, we were advised by the officials there not to report the matter for the sake of honour, because what has happened could not be undone,” she added.…
- Women Passengers Were Dragged Out Of Vehicles And Raped Near Murthal In Haryana (Feb 24, 2016, Huffington Post)
- Jat quota stir rapes: Sexual assault during riots confirmed; HC directs survivors to file complaints with judges (Feb 26, 2016, First Post)
- At Kalayat, Jats identified, targeted non-Jat properties as police looked on (Feb 25, 2016, Indian Express)
- Jat quota riots: 1,117 criminal cases registered in Haryana, 147 arrested so far (Feb 29, 2016, First Post)
Mother of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit student who committed suicide at Hyderabad University last month, has accused Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani of spreading “blatant lies” in Parliament about the events surrounding her son’s death.
Addressing a press conference along with Rohith’s brother Raja and friend Dontha Prashant, Radhika responded to several observations that Irani had made and urged her to “end her spree of misrepresenting facts”.…
On Friday, Radhika said the BJP would be “decimated to the ground” if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not intervene and take action against Irani and her Cabinet colleague Bandaru Dattatreya, who had written multiple letters to her seeking action against Rohith, alleging anti-national activities.…
- Truth and justice is expected from a minister, not melodrama: Varsity teachers to Irani (Feb 28, 2016, Ummid.com)
- Doctor gives details of Rohith Vemula’s death that rebut HRD Minister Smriti Irani (Feb 27, 2016, Indian Express)
- ‘Smriti Irani misrepresented my work in her speech’: Oxford researcher Sarmila Bose (Feb 28, 2016, Scroll.in)
- Don Bosco refutes allegation: Handbook Smriti Irani mentioned was withdrawn way back in 2001 (Feb 27, 2016, Indian Express)
Opinions and Editorials
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.…
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.…
- Grave Threat to Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy – By Vijay Kumar (Feb 28, 2016, Mainstream)
- Nationalism unites, Hindutva divides – By Sidharth Bhatia (Feb 27, 2016, Deccan Chronicle)
- How television media uncritically reproduced the Sangh’s narrative of “nationalist” versus “anti-nationalist” – By Sandeep Bhushan (Feb 28, 2016, Caravan Magazine)
- Does Indian media want to incite riots and lynchings for TRPs? – By Samar (Feb 28, 2016, Dailyo.in)
After watching the last of the films I had chosen to during the recently-ended Bangalore International Film Festival, I was walking back home and on a large playground southeast of the mall where the week-long event was held, I felt what struck me as something akin to dread and even terror.
An RSS man, khaki knicker-clad, was standing and addressing a group of about 35 to 40 young boys, including some who seemed to be five- or six-year-olds seated on the bare ground. As I walked by, on the road, some distance above the playground, I could make out some faint sounds of chants or prayers.
Why do I say “dread” and “terror”? The thought that lingered in me was this: apart from prayers and stuff, what sort of Hindutva poison – and how venomous – was he funnelling into those young kids? As a late riser and not given to morning walks, I am spared the sight of RSS “shakhas”. And so this was a relatively unusual spectacle for me even though I am aware that tens of thousands, if not more, of such “shakhas” plague many parts of India.…
- The Ugly Face of ‘Hindu’ Nationalism – By Arup Kumar Sen (Feb 28, 2016, Mainstream)
- FTII to JNU: BJP’s Hindu politics has muddied the campus – By Sandeep Pandey (Feb 24, 2016, Dailyo.in)
- Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind Par Woh Kahan Hain? Where are those who are proud of India? – By Shamsul Islam (Feb 27, 2016, Countercurrents)
- JNU to Manipur, how India is cruel to minorities – By Thokchom Bibinaz Devi (Feb 28, 2016, Dailyo.in)
Smriti Irani humiliates AMU’s VC, adamant to close down all Aligarh Muslim University Centres – By Zafarul-Islam Khan (Feb 29, 2016, Milli Gazette)
With a delegation of Kerala ministers and MPs, Kerala Chief Minister Mr. Oommen Chandy met HRD Minister Smriti Irani in her office in Delhi on 8 January seeking her support for the AMU Centre in Malappuram which is not progressing as planned. According to a reliable source, she told them bluntly, “This centre and other AMU centres were established without any legal sanction, hence they all will be closed down.”
She added, “How you start a centre like this?…What authority the VC has to take such an action. We are not going to give money.” She went on to say, “There was no need for the AMU centres. I am going to close them down. We will not give any grant for this purpose.” The Kerala CM told her, we have allocated 345 acres of precious land in Perinthalmanna taluk of Malappuram for this purpose on the understanding that a full-fledged AMU centre will function there. “Take it back!” the HRD minister thundered.
While this unpleasant discussion was on between the HRD Minister and Kerala CM-led delegation, the AMU Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen (retd) Zameeruddin Shah entered the room. Irani asked him bluntly: “Why have you come?” He politely replied, “Ma’am, I have come at the invitation of the Kerala Chief Minister.” She shot back in anger: “Who pays your salary? Kerala CM or the HRD Ministry? Go back and sit in your room!” The humiliated VC made a hasty retreat while a stunned CM and his delegation looked on in utter disbelief.…
- Wasn’t Insulted But Smriti Irani is Hampering AMU’s Growth: VC – By Rishika Baruah (Mar 2, 2016, The Quint)
- Politics and AMU – By A.G. Noorani (Mar 18, 2016, Frontline)
- Changing times, changing stands on AMU – By Akshaya Mukul (Feb 28, 2016, Times of India)
- In 1977, Jana Sangh batted for AMU’s minority status – By Mohammad Ali (Feb 29, 2016, The Hindu)
…Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly twitted ‘Satyameva Jayate’ on the stunning performance of his poster girl, Smriti Irani, the union Human Resources Development Minister, in the Lok Sabha defending herself and his government in the matters of attack on Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) in Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and radical students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students Union.…
What Irani did was no better than one of her television performances as a Hindu bahu. It was more of a drama than confronting the serious issues she herself created. It characteristically reflected insensitivity of the regime to the tragedy it unleashed on people and disdain to India’s democratic institutions including the Parliament itself. Most importantly, all that she said was either irrelevant or pure lies.… In the wake of forthcoming elections in five states, viz., Assam, Kerala, Puduchery, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which are likely in April-May, and in the UP and Punjab early next year, the BJP wants to intensify its pet stratagem of polarizing people on communal lines.
The strategy is to use Goebbles’ methods more intensely and deploy storm troopers to execute it. Satyamev Jayate etc. are part of this Goebblesque theorem; the Hindutva camp never cared for what truth is. As its history shows, this strategy alone has worked for it.… With BJP’s non-performance, the situation has come full circle to normalcy, warranting the use of weapons in its arsenal. The year ahead is going to see some calamitous spells of this strategy in terms of communal conflagrations, the scientists of Gujarat Laboratories being at the helm!
- Rohith’s family calls you a liar, Smriti Irani. Stop mocking Parliament – By Mandeep Singh (Feb 26, 2016, Dailyo.in)
- Lies Never Triumph – By Imran Khan (Mar 1, 2016, Countercurrents)
- Hindutva demonising Indians in the name of Mahishasur and Durga – By Sandeep Pandey (Mar 1, 2016, Dailyo.in)
- Rohith’s Mother Has These Questions For Smriti Irani – By Brinda Karat (Feb 25, 2016, NDTV)
Haryana Jat Stir for Jobs Cuts Into Propaganda of ‘Nationalism’ – Editorial (Feb 23, 2016, The Citizen)
The Jat stir that has paralysed Haryana is perhaps one of the most important developments in recent months. The violence is of course, one aspect of the stir but the reasons that provoked the largely young people of the state to come out in protest – the Jats when they protest are traditionally violent – and challenge the Army at a time when the BJP/RSS was seeking to push economic disaffection under the carpet with ‘nationalist’ slogans centred around JNU of course, sends out a significant and important message.
The demand for reservation is basically a demand for jobs and education. A statement from disaffected groups, be it the Jats in Haryana, the Patels in Gujarat or the Kapus in Andhra Pradesh, that they want reservation as that is the only way they can get education and employment. It is a clear sign of an economy breaking down, of growing frustration and lawlessness amongst unemployed youth that is watching the world pass them by, with the violence intended to make the government that has fallen silent after a hectic Lok Sabha campaign promising the moon, hear and respond.
The Haryana Jats took to the streets just as the national versus anti-national polarisation by the right wing was at its peak. And the stakeholders, including the media, were high on the belief that finally the slogan was working to split society with the choice defined by the limited intellect, being made inevitable. This strong campaign should have had an impact on Haryana where the Jats have been often veered to the right in their responses to issues as the state runs into Delhi, with Gurgaon being common to both in the National Capital Region. Instead, the Jats disregarded the campaign and made it clear through the stir that is still on, that for them employment was the real concern. And this is the voice that can be expected to rise from all quarters as the economy slows down, and the government’s energy moves into battling students instead of addressing the real issues concerning their future.…
- Unreasonable demands – Editorial (Feb 22, 2016, The Hindu)
- Jat agitation- Responsibility of all parties to create roadmap for reservation – Editorial (Feb 22, 2016, DNA India)
George Orwell fictionalised the “surveillance state” in 1984; Edward Snowden convincingly proved it to be a reality in the United States (US) in 2013. With the Narendra Modi government’s plan to set up a National Media Analytics Centre (NMAC), India seems well on the way to following the lead given by the US.
According to newspaper reports, the National Security Council Secretariat proposes setting up the NMAC to monitor and analyse blogs, web portals of television channels and newspapers, as well as social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In some ways this is a duplication of the New Media Wing, set up under the previous government in 2013, which sends daily reports to the government on what is appearing in social media on government policies.
Where the NMAC will go farther, and deeper, is that it will not just monitor social media but will actively counter “negative” news about the government. To do this, it has on hand special software developed to track “negative,” “neutral” and “positive” posts on social media. All ministries have already been instructed to set up quick response teams to defend themselves against so-called “negative” news. The software will also help track the individual blogger or person posting on social media sites, the number of times this person has posted negative or positive material, his/her website preferences and whether any of these websites are those that seek to foment trouble or radicalise the viewer. The feedback from such monitoring would be passed on to security agencies.…
- The Camera Is Their Hatchet Man – By Anoo Bhuyan (Mar 7, 2016, Outlook)
Author: Gautam Bhatia
Reviewed by: K. Venkataramanan
Available at: Oxford University Press Distribution Services, North Kettering Business Park, Hipwell Road, Kettering, Northants, NN14 1UA. http://www.amazon.in/
How free can free speech be? (Feb 28, 2016, The Hindu)
A decade ago, Tamil Nadu was as agog about a looming threat to freedom of speech and a pervasive atmosphere of intolerance as the entire country is at the moment. Assorted groups of Tamil nationalists, protectors and preservers of Tamil culture were policing the opinions of public figures, especially from the film industry. Open threats, street demonstrations and waving of footwear and broomsticks indicated that supposedly offended Tamil society was out to protect its culture from prurient attacks.…
Gautam Bhatia would classify such curbs as instances of ‘legal paternalism’ or ‘legal moralism’. For, according to this author of a lucid and detailed examination of the law of free speech in India (Offend, Shock, or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution, Oxford University Press, Rs.750), Indian free speech jurisprudence has two broad approaches – ‘moral-paternalistic’, a view that sees people as inherently corruptible and prone to violence and who cannot be trusted with too much freedom, and ‘liberal-autonomous’, an approach that sees people as individuals capable of making decisions on their own lives and one that allows only limited restrictions on what they can speak, see or hear.
Does not our Constitution guarantee all of us freedom of speech and expression? If both freedom and its curtailment are in an everlasting delicate balance, what exactly is our free speech philosophy? If freedom is related to politics and democracy, does it come under political philosophy? Or is it moral philosophy concerning the individual and the human self? “We need a theory, or theories of free speech,” says Bhatia. The theoretical framework for his analysis of the evolution of free speech jurisprudence covers a vast expanse. Free speech is a means to the truth; a pursuit of individual self-fulfilment and an important means by which democratic self-governance is made possible, he argues.…