“Where the head is held high and mind is without fear”, wrote Noble Prize Winner and Renowned Poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Rabindranath Tagore doesn’t need an introduction for any Indian. The nation respects him and his thoughts. However, today it turns out that the nation that derives or rather claims to derive inspiration from his thoughts, have reduced this thought to mere words.
The reference is to the action of the State Government of Uttar Pradesh and Subharti University (a private university in meerut) taken against the kashmiri students who cheered for the Pakistani Cricket Team. Both the government and the university have maligned the concept of fearless minds. They have instilled fear in the minds of the citizens who shall now think before praising any country for any reason.
For the state government regarded the act of praising Pakistani cricket team and cheering upon its victory to be so dangerous that it booked the students with the charge of sedition. Similarly, the university had expelled these students. It had also not taken into account the fact that other students in their protest against the act of kashmiri students had broken windows and vandalised their hostel rooms. For it, their act was much more dangerous than their right to life that was also under threat. Isn’t that a problem?
This incident has several other aspects to it.
VIOLATION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
A very basic thing that comes to one’s mind is that it is clear violation of freedom of expression. They were merely expressing their choice and preference. How can a government tell us whom we should cheer for? Will the state now govern our choices and preferences? It is yet another blot on the world’s largest ‘democracy’.
Also constitutionally speaking, supporting Pakistan or any country with whom we have a diplomatic relation and which India has duly recognized as a sovereign state, in no way constitute any crime unless and until it coupled with hatred or motive to destruct and a will against the Elected Indian Government or Constitution.
EXPRESSION OF RESISTENCE
While it cannot be assumed that kashmiri students were cheering for Pakistani cricket team as a way to show their resistance against Indian oppression. However, even if they were, I think India should care more much about the oppression than the expression of resistance against it. They should be bothered more about why they are protesting.
Another point is that even if it was an expression of resistance can this method be seen as seditious? Cricket is afterall a game, just that and if not then may be we should start solving our international issues through it.
INCREASING STATE’S ROLE
If we accept this today, let’s be prepared for more such acts. Today, they do it with Kashmir and so we are silent but tomorrow, the state will come up with more definitions of sedition.
IS SEDITION ONLY FOR THE CITIZENS?
If merely speaking or cheering in favor of another country or condemning one’s own country counts to sedition, then there have been innumerable situation wherein the Indian government itself should to be charged under sedition. Violating human rights of kashmiris, applying force on peaceful demonstrations of people and suppressing vioces should come under sedition because it degrades the fundamental essence of democracy that are the citizens.
EDUCATION SYSTEM AND NATIONALISM
The action taken by the university clearly shows how we are generating hatred, intolerance and radicalism through our knowledge-systems. Our knowledge systems should emphasise on the values of equality, justice and humanity. They should not become an apparatus of the oppressive state.
HARMING THE ‘DEMOCRATIC’ IMAGE OF INDIA
Needless to say, this incident has also raised questions on the country in the international sphere. The country or the so-called democracy is being condemned for this shocking and unacceptable reaction.
As we noted, this incident raises several issues. It forces us to think that where are we heading to?
This article was published on Countercurrents and Kashmir Times dated 9 March 2014.