Freedom of Expression and Martyrdom

Image 6It has been long since Indian universities ceased to be cloisters of higher learning where scholars and the faculty were far too preoccupied solely with their academic engagements to stray into discourses on other areas of social and national significance during peace time. Of late, the situation has taken an intriguing turn with the left-leaning students becoming vociferous and assertive in their demand for space and freedom in the sanctity of their universities to express their views on practically any and every issue, such as nationalism, patriotism and the political cross-currents afflicting the country. They have also started protesting against situations arising from the government’s handling of the divisive, communal and fundamentalist forces in the frontline states of the country such as Jammu and Kashmir.

Evidently, these are issues that have nothing to do with their principal vocation of learning. What makes this development particularly jarring, and even alarming is the involvement of some anti-national elements, charged by the police with cases of sedition, in the exercise of their democratic rights by the student community and the uncalled for support readily extended to them by the Communists and other leftist political parties. Sloganeering of and plastering of the varsity premises with posters, screaming anti-national barbs like freedom for Kashmir (Azadi), dismemberment of the nation, and glowing tributes to the enemies of the State who have been found guilty and punished by the judiciary or neutralized by the armed forces, as well as targeting of the territorial integrity of the nation, have become a worrisome matter of concern both for the university authorities and the lawenforcing agencies.

Battle Lines Drawn

Unpleasant situations arise when warring factions of students, drawn along the lines of student associations with conflicting political orientations, are egged on by selfish politicians, and confront each other, with the wary law enforcing agencies keeping a benign eye on the disturbing events and occasionally stepping in to bring ugly brawls and downright showdowns under control. Despite all the watchfulness and preparedness on the part of the authorities, explosive situations do crop up with alarming regularity, resulting in mindless violence and furious nationwide debates in which the mainstream media, closely followed by the social media, exuberantly throw their hats in the ring, vying for a piece of action to improve their TRP ratings. Students who cannot be bothered to commit support to either faction get caught in the crossfire.

Furthermore, the student community as a whole, and the faculty, get embroiled in the vicious maelstrom of endless debates and sticky situations, reeking of political malodour, sooner than they realize and are hardly able to extricate themselves from the embroilment to retreat to their former state of quiet and peaceful seclusion from thehumdrum prevalent outside the precincts of their universities, in the pursuit of learning. Despite being among the principal victims of the clamour and wrangling affecting their wards, parents are left with hardly any say in the matter and remain mute witnesses to the seemingly endless rounds of shadow boxing and having nothing else to do apart from wringing their hands in despair. All these, when the nation as a whole, is in a dilemma, being hardly in a position to focus on resolving matters of extreme urgency and importance like cross-border terrorism, elections to state assemblies, and raging controversial issues like the Uniform Civil Code, demonetization, etc. The ruckus created compels the Central government to put all other important matters on the backburner so that it canredress the imaginary grievances and baseless misgivings of the studentcommunity.

Media in the Fray

The fetid state of affairs in the universities is further compounded by the trigger-happy media, which loses no time in rendering the unhealthy student-politician cocktail a vigorous stir, by granting extensive coverage and playing up the grievances of the student community, sidelining reports of more important incidents like the brave acts of our soldiers at the border who do not shy away from sacrificing their lives while encountering treacherous enemy soldiers and terrorists. Such a lopsided attitude and approach on the part of the media could be termed nothing short of an exercise inirresponsibility as it gives a misleading and very unreal halo to the recalcitrant elements among the student community protesting over issues, with barely any bearing on their interests in the first place. Egged on by the left-leaning political parties and goaded by a gleeful media, the student community gets carried away by the momentum and swiftness with which their rallies and demonstrations degenerate into sorry spectacles of infructuous student energy.

Enters Martyr’s Daughter

The recent incident of a 20-year old student of the Delhi University, whose father, a soldier in the Army, had become a martyr in an ambush by a bunch of terrorists, is an avoidable case of the flexing of muscles by the student community. Following an ugly fracas between two factions in the college campus, which got physical over an invite extended by a prestigious college of the Delhi University to a student leader, who is already facing legal action on charges of sedition, to be a guest speaker at an event organized by the college, the martyr’s daughter was shown in the media supporting the group that was gung-ho about the controversial student leader being allowed to have his freedom of expression. This was to the chagrin of the opposing group that was upbeat about nationalist sentiments and the unsuitability of the invited guest speaker under a shadow of sedition to be a speaker.

The martyr’s daughter was first shown holding a placard claiming that her father had been killed by war and not by the Pakistanis, and then holding another placard, screaming that she was not afraid of the student union that vehemently opposed participation by the detested guest speaker at the college event. Her act of dragging the name of her late father who had given up his life for the nation in Army action against a group of terrorists, trained and armed by an enemy country, to stand by someone who had already been caught up in the eye of a massive political storm which had barely blown over, albeit on the pretext of demanding freedom of expression, was both uncalled for and unfortunate. Her actions predictably provoked a backlash from the group of students who were determined that no quarter be given to the controversial student leader, charged with fanning anti-national sentiments, whose loyalty was suspected to lie not for the unity of the nation but elsewhere – withseparatists and divisive forces bent upon the disintegration of the Indian nation, in short, with the enemies of the State.

Retreat by Martyr’s Daughter

The far left political elements, who do not shy away from resorting to violent means to thwart the political system in the country and the stability of the nation, seized this opportunity to exploit the potentially explosive situation, by hurling invectives and throwing threats of bodily harm including rape and murder, at the young girl student who had stepped out of the line to make a point in support of the freedom of expression. The reflex action on the part of practically everyone involved in or monitoring the events was to suspect the students association against the misuse of the varsity precincts for the espousal of inflammatory and anti-national speeches. The affected girl student took up the matter with the Delhi Commission for Women, which provided her security in the form of two Home Guards.

Delhi Police have, on their part, filed a case against the miscreants. Meanwhile, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the association that was suspected of threatening the martyr’s daughter, alleged the involvement of elements of rival factions bent upon besmirching its name in the crime. It has also filed a case with Delhi Police against the real culprits. According to the preliminary investigation reports by the Police, the real culprits were not from the ABVP but from a left-wing student organization – namely the All India Students’ Association (AISA). Following the distressing developments, the martyr’s daughter kept a low profile and declared that her 20-year old self cannot take it anymore; and now she wanted to focus on her studies and keep away from further field action by the student groups. However, she hastened to exhort her friends and well-wishers to continue supporting the protesting student groups!

Faculty Flounders

Meanwhile, the faculty at the department of English where the martyr’s daughter is studying have extended their unequivocal support to her. They have, in fact, gone ahead and issued a signed statement stating that it was the bounden duty of educational institutions to nurture responsible, sensitive, and critical thinking students without the fear of violent reaction. However, without meaning to cast aspersions on the young girl student who sidled in and sidled out of the controversy, the most bemusing feature of her brief you-blink-and-you-miss-her role in the sordid drama was not the ease of conscience with which she vindicated the Pakistanis of killing her father and not even the adroitness with which she excused herself from any further part in the protest movement albeit for the purpose of focusing on her studies, but the naivety displayed by her when she exhorted her friends to join and keep the protests going! Would it be too much to expect the young girl student and the faculty, to extend to the other protesting students, who could not be much older than her, a much-needed break for focusing on their own academic career rather than fritter their focus and energy on bogus protests?

Freedom No Licence to Subvert

Another amusing thing that the students’ day away from classes has thrown up is a quote by former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram who said, “I think we’re confusing universities with monasteries. A university is a place where I have the right to be wrong.” Undoubtedly, students could afford to be wrong, not deliberately or wantonly, but owing to lack of maturity and experience with the worldly ways of politics where the stakes are high and gullible students are easy prey to self-serving politicians. That was precisely what Minister of State for Home Affairs KirenRijiju meant when he said that the Leftists were polluting the mind of the martyr’s daughter. Needless to say, what Rijiju said about the girl in the eye of the storm applies to other students as well. Besides, the protesting students who are entitled, by all means, to freedom of expression vested in them by the Constitution, erred in lending support to anti-nationals and separatists who had flagrantly glorified terrorists, traitors and mercenaries of an enemy country. They cannot complain against the State for not being lenient on them after doing their bit of treading on the toes of national interests like by supporting stone-pelters in Kashmir and glorifying traitors and enemies of the State by calling them, heroes and martyrs.

Not Too Much, Not Too Little

Samuel Johnson had famously said, “Every man has a right to utter what he thinkstruth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.” That happens to be the stance of the government, which cannot be faulted for practising what is in the national interests. Taking into account the seemingly endless rounds of acrimonious debates on intolerance happening nationwide, PresidentPranab Mukherjeeslammed the ‘Azadi league’. Asking the students to abstain from “propagating a culture of unrest”,he reminded them that the nation always comes first and it is high time the people embarked on a rediscovery of a national purpose and patriotism. Before asserting their right to freedom of expression, the student community would do well to exercise the privilege of listening to their elders. If that is too much to ask of them, they should realize that what they are asking for is not too little either.

87 thoughts on “Freedom of Expression and Martyrdom

  1. Kundan kapoor

    Freedom of expression is not and can never be absolute. If it becomes one then the society will be divided on communal, ethnic, racial and gender lines.

  2. Nagsen Kamble

    It was a shame that a girl whose father was killed during war with pakistan is using this identity as a tool to advance her career. People supporting her are also at fault.

  3. Arjun Rattan

    The entire situation in DU and the earlier cases in JNU and Hyderabad University were sensationalised by media. They are reporting easy news and the public is being distracted.

  4. Priya ranjan

    Why not? Is it wrong to talk about an issue that has a bearing oon lives of people of India? Students were just expressing their views verbally, what is anti-national in this?

  5. Ravi Bhagavatula

    If one day I wake up and feel that Kashmir issue should be sorted out by referendum then it is not the duty of news channels to promote this weird idea. They must act carefully.

  6. Pushpak Soni

    A great article to read. And it is true that freedom of expression does not mean they have the right to speak ill against the unity of our country. And it is a shame that a daughter of martyr thinks like that. We must not forget that ‘freedom is not free,it costs soldiers’

  7. Baiju V Pandit

    Sounds too patriarchal opinion. 2start with, fundamentaly the word Politics, Union, Comunist, Isl amic & such do not belong in schools, in the first place. Ther has 2b a system in our non-13(d find) free world indian schools, where ther r groups, sororities w/each group havin their own mas cot, lo go & name, and which the new arriving students can know and chuz 2become a part of, wherein t he seniors of the group put them thru tests bazd on the goals&objectives, philosophy, beliefs of th eir group & the ones who pass the test, r IN. Also fundamentally no group shud b allowd 2xist baz d on religion, caste, gender & authoritarian regimes such as the comunists. Yes, the word comunis ts does not even belong in our non-13(dfind) free world India, as per the constitution, as evil comu nists & evil islam r the complete oposite of the free world values, beliefs & systems of Freedoms, Li berties, Equality, Transparency, Rights, Rule of Law of, for & by the People in a Democracy. So, yes all the politicians in the past 70yrs now wer all fukin careless & gav a fuk, fukin spineless ppl, none of whom has even initiated this fact, that ther must not be any political party bazd on religion, cas te, gender & comunism. Yeah that incl. modi too. All this rotn evil comunists yechury, brinda, the kerala ones, the socialists, the whole evil U.P. yadav clan, laloo clan, mayawatis, jayas, the dmk bli nd guy, & such all r pure absolute non-recyclable garbage & all thez along w/evil islam & evil comu nists NEED2b packd in a sack & thrown in space. Why all thez here ? It is ‘coz all thez thru & 4 thei r yuth wings, hav created such groups in schools around our non-13(dfind) free world india, 2pick their next generation pawns & wher the kids of leaders form their admin. rite here in schools & the y r lifelong pawns. Now in all this, BJP & Congress too r present, but among all thez combind, the only ONE who is most spread in schools all ovr our non-13(dfind) free world r evil comunists & evil islam. May b the BJP & the congress feel that they r too big ppl. so let’s just stick in metro schools & all the elite ones. Anothr part that is disturbin here is the ‘Left / Leftist’. Well, thez words right & left & all inbetn r also bazd on who sits on which side of the speaker in the parliament. And infact thez evil comunists, evil islam & the rotn socialist clan sits rite in the midle, but it is not ‘coz of thei r evil ideology, but they being small parties cannot get a right or a left. Eithr ways, this word has been smartly introduced by the evil comunists & evil islam, & made it mor common usage in medi a, by their evil intelligentsia pimps in the media. This is 4the purpuz of they not being calld as co munists or of islam, which is against the constitution & their very core beliefs. The system shud b like our non-13(dfind) free world U.S., wherein ther is a GOP & a 2party system & obviously thez evi l comunists & evil islam 2b banned 4rm all political activities, no xistence of thez words in india, Pe riod.
    What all thez evil comunists & evil islam does is stick 2their evil causes & which r suportin evil com unist maoists, evil islamic terorists, evil whor of all evils of world pakistan & pakistanis worldwide, and bring in their laws & systems, which r dictated by their evil party & in case of islam their relig ion, such as special laws&treatment 4them, & so they r also opozin uniform civil code. All this got 2stop&they need2b banned imediatly. No Islamic laws, no fukin special treatment. Ther cannot b 2 sets of laws within one nation, 1for their evil islam & 1for the rest of india. And this being done by the disastrous & ndemically corrupt congress party & their evil vote bank politics of 50+ god da mn fukin yrs. Oh yeah&they still claim their lawmakers 4rm harvard, yale & othr ivy league 2proje ct themselvs as modern&then become dictators like evil indira gandhi(dfind). Who the fuk knows what they learnd at thez ivy league schools, but 4sure they don’t teach all this ovr ther.
    In case of this so very inocent gurmehar kaur, as v(dfind) all know by now, since her teenage days her mind was polluted by evil islam (who in india&around the world too, r the only allies of evil co munists &vice-versa). Rathr I wud say that, it is v, as non-13(dfind) free world indians who hav faile d her, ignored her, let her be on her own, while thez evils got around&all ovr her&this is why v hav her sayin all that she did. V(dfind) all know, she wud giv her life 4our non-13(dfind) free world Indi a, like her dad, but who put all thez words in her mouth&mind of ‘Pakistan / Islam didn’t kill me da d, but the Indian war did……….’ Evidently, evil islam did. How ? When ? V(dfind) didn’t care & so v don’t know. And now v, do. And what can v(dfind) do about this ? Well, the politicians simply wro te her off as she is just a kid, let her b alone, which i think is again a mistake. But they did so, ‘coz they do not want2take any responsibility of wher they hav failed. And aftr which the media wrapp d up the whole story&buried it.
    Lastly, on the arguments part, let’s admit, v, all non-13(dfind)free world indians r inherently argu mentativ. Its in our DNA & that’s why v, r famously calld the ‘Argumentative Indians.’ So let’s not tell our kids2listen 2their leaders, they r all the same w/varyin degrees. Argue, Argue, Argue, whic h v hav been doin oficialy for mor than 2k yrs & while v did, argue, ther wer 9 major invaders, who invaded & brought us on the roads & then v created a Mahatma. Not the least it is this same evil islam, who happens 2b the only violent attacker invader, who attackd our non-13(dfind) free worl d india for mor than 50x, & destroyd,looted,stole,raped,killd all that v had in our now 8k yr old rec orded history. And it tuk one evil, the british mpire, 2overthrow & defeat evil islam’s 940yrs of our nslavement, in our own homes, in our own lands, w/our own money & labor,&building their absol ute non-recyclable garbage evil islamic mpire & taj mahals. And then the evil british mpire, nslav d us for 200yrs. all invaders left, aftr makin us mpty in all ways, shapes & forms, xcept this rotn evil islam, who still thinks that this is their own land&lives so fukin righteously, when it is suppozd2 FI RST giv an apology & reparation, as among all invaders, it is the only one who destroyd, ruined & looted the most. And as if 940yrs of destruction was not enuf, their evil terorist whor pimp jinnah stole our lands 4their evil unwanted IM-PAK-istan. All 4free, w/o doin anythin & lickin the rotn whit e trash asses of the evil british mpire. Each time, luk carefuly, who got fukd in the nd ? ONLY US(DF IND) the non-13(dfind) free world indians. Somethin fukin very wrong w/us (dfind). Yeah right, I kn ow, that v(dfind) like 2call ourselvs ‘too good 2b true 2b believd’, but v know that v hav som e fuk up somewher&so v r fukd up. I mean imagine, for 940 god damn fukin yrs, ther was not one India n who was able 2succesfuly kick this evil islam out. Ther is no such civilization on earth. So, shall v agree2also call ourselvs fukin spineless sick fools & morons ? And yes, this ‘fuk up’ is the caste sys tem, &it is still fukin us &still v havn’t realizd it. On paper, so fukin gloriously v call ourselvs 82% m ajority, but on the ground, aftr applyin all the shitty castes, the max v reach is 22%. And the politi cians for 70yrs now hav been havin their party ‘coz of this. Our non-13(difnd) free world India NEE DS a Lincoln imediatly & this rotn evil sick shitty caste system has2b abolishd 4evr.

  8. Surinder Bir

    India is witnessing a very unusual situation in its leading universities. The major reason being a very litharge judicial system and tardy police investigations. The real sufferer of failure of judiciary and police are the Armed Forces who in spite of doing their best cannot speak or take appropriate action to stop the rot by very minor student community which is indulging in an unthoughtful mud slinging in the name of freedom of speech. Wish this freedom of speech and action was legally available to soldiers also.

  9. Avinash Baldi

    I do not want to be engaged in any type of conversation………….but just want to say that “If someone abuses my mother than i’ll definitely give him a slap and if someone shouts to break my family i’ll definitely try to shut his mouth and wrong doing by any means i can and if you are not agree then i don’t know whether you believe in Indian culture and Values or not(of joint families)………………..and this same applies for my Country also……………………….political benefits and opposition are on one side but you can’t expect me to be silent on the issue of my family……………………so be careful about your deeds……”

  10. Jubin Mehta

    The president has openly supported freeom of speech and has said that universities are homes of debates and deliberation. His call should be heeded.

  11. Manvinder Singh

    Any discussion could have been non-violent and non-sensational, had these reporters not covered the incident in such manner. They are hungary for news and what is better than college protests.

  12. Pratik Gundawade

    A basic point is that anyone hailing afzal guru or yakub cannot be spared under the guise of freedom of expression. If done so, people may ask for nawaz sharif as Indian PM.

  13. Arpit SINGHANIA

    I do not find any fault in Trump’s policy of banning immigrants from Muslim nations. In India, when this is done for saving our sovereignty, people decry of curbs on freedom

  14. Raj singh

    The only solution to this issue is a verdict by the court on to how much extent freedom of expression may be permitted, just like in case of reservation, it is not more than 50 percent.

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    Ahaa, its pleasant dialogue about this piece of writing at this place at this weblog, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting here.

  16. Umakant Shukla

    I think here is more freedom of speech and we have to van such speech where some peoples abusing nation or azadi, such incidents are intolreable and government / court has to take all necessary actions for stop the repetition…

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