If Gandhiji, Father of the Nation, can be murdered in daylight glare with thousands of praying devotees standing as mute witnesses to the nerve-shattering horror, anything can happen in this country. Gandhiji was our national apostle for non-violence, peace, fellowship, and communal harmony. In today’s hate-ridden situation, he can be murdered again with impunity. As was demonstrated in public when an image of Gandhiji’s effigy was shot at repeatedly by Puja Shakun Pandey, Hindu Mahasbha national secretary, in Aligarh, in public and in front of some admirers on Gandhiji’s martyrdom day!
Such a preposterous act only proves that Gandhiji can be murdered again and again in devious ways such as by destroying his ideals, tarnishing his message, obliterating his memory, distorting his contributions to humanity, and contaminating his heritage to the nation. The heat wave of hate ideology and communal venom is taking a heavy toll. The consummate example is the glorification and beatification of the murderer of Gandhiji as a national hero. Anyone who utters dissent against such violence or vicious atmosphere gets dubbed as anti-national by those who have a much circumcised ideology of nationalism.
The case against four dozen eminent Indians for their advocating non-violence may have been dropped owing to public outcry and international pressure. But, the damage to the nation has already been done by the complainant himself. The way the international press highlighted the harebrained idea of filing a nonsensical case against important personalities and the manner in which many world leaders took note of it with displeasure only show the red marking on our nation’s report card.
Ironically, the FIR by Sudhir Kumar Ojha of Muzafarpur in Bihar was filed on the occasion of Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary. The implication is abundantly clear. The FIR at Muzafarpur Sadar Police Station came on the order of Chief Judicial Magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari on Ojha’s petition on July 27. But, unfortunately, the magistrate’s court seemed to have given the complainant a cakewalk by choosing not to remember the Supreme Court’s observations against growing acts of mob violence.
The wisdom of the magistrate court which allowed the case to be registered should be tested under severe scrutiny because the Supreme Court itself had condemned widespread acts of lynching or mob violence. Last July, while hearing a PIL seeking implementation of the apex court’s 2018 guidelines to prevent incidents of mob lynching, the Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre, National Human Rights Commission and state governments on a plea seeking implementation of the apex court’s 2018 guidelines to prevent incidents of mob lynching. It urged the Parliament to legislate appropriately to deal sternly with the crime ‘that threatens rule of law and the country’s social fabric.’
The F.I.R. in case no. 2102 of 2019, under sections 124A, 153B, 160, 290, 297, 504 of IPC., states that “the intention of the accused persons is to damage the image of India and the Democracy by making false allegations... intentionally to divide the country...That on 23.07.2019 the accused persons and other 49 gentlemen had written to the Prime Minister of India expressing concern over the growing cases of lynching, which the complainant saw and read in the T.V. Channels and newspapers...The accused persons are supporters of leftwing ideology...”
Scanning this brazen exercise of the complainant, the following points emerge:
1. That calling for a violence-free nation by asking the Prime Minister to take action is sedition. What is sedition: Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent towards, or resistance against established authority. The sedition law was incorporated into the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 1870 by the colonial government which was barricading itself against any dissent.
How could the judicial mind sweep under the carpet the fact that the Supreme Court itself had condemned lynching and mob violence and Prime Minister Modi had declared on the floor of the Rajya Sabha that he was pained by such mob violence and called for a halt? Do we have any commonsensical understanding left to decipher even the basic meaning what is uttered by the Apex court or by the head of the nation?
2. That the act of condemning or calling for action against lynching damages the image of India before the international community. If the argument is taken to its logical conclusion, then the Apex Court and the Indian Prime Minister stand as co-accused in damaging the image of the country before the international community.
3. That professing left ideology is seditious. The complaint says that the accused persons are supporters of leftwing ideology. Meaning thereby that only an ideology that professes and propagates violence and communal disharmony is acceptable in this land. Where have sense and senility gone? Have they been bartered for a sacksful of perverse thinking? Has wisdom been waylaid, mobbed and lynched? Has logical reasoning been given an eternal holiday to give way to idiotic and convulsive thinking?
4. That fulfilling one’s constitutional obligations as citizens of the country is anti-national and seditious. Among the Fundamental Duties of citizens under the Constitution, Art 51A(e), it is the fundamental duty of every citizen “to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities...”
By what imagination can one argue that requesting the Prime Minister of the nation to help protect human lives from violent mobs or religious fanatics and to act to promote religious harmony is anti-national and seditious act?
It is no secret that India is being turned into a violent and convulsion-ridden nation. Ojha is one of the convenient tools. Everyday newspapers and news channels bump into us with disturbing news of different acts of physical violence. Social media brings out inhuman violence on hapless people. It is not just physical violence. Violence is done to people’s thinking, their food habits, their earning pattern, their religious freedom under the Constitution, their freedom to walk as man and woman. Violence is done to people’s psyche. Your freedom to express your opinion is thwarted. You are silenced either by disabling you or by murdering you. Imagine, the right arm of Ambedkar statue was broken by anti-Dalit forces. The photograph of the statue with the broken arm carried a message by one Sanjay Verma Hindu on social media on 3rd July: ‘With this hand this pig had written the Constitution, and, therefore, it has been broken.’ At this rate, were Ambedkar alive today, he would have been caught, drawn and quartered. Do we want to sweep such heinous acts under the carpet and demonstrate to the world that everything is ‘khushi khushi’?
If we are honest with ourselves, we need to introspect under the command of a right conscience. Are we fooling ourselves and how long? How long do we pamper violence and pander to hate ideology? How long can the nation afford to uphold only one single ideology to preclude alternative thinking and differences of opinion? We are no more in the middle ages or pre-scientific Palaeolithic era. Scientific thinking and logical reasoning should characterise our thoughts and actions. Otherwise, we shall be relegated by the world to the Hades of morons, cruel task masters, unscientific propagandists, lacklustre ideologues and illogical megalomaniacs.
Let one thing be clear. As long as we are citizens of India, we shall swear by the Constitution. Not because we belong to this religion or that. Let one’s religious belief be a private affair confined to the holy precincts of one’s conscience and belief. Those who dilute Indian ethos and Constitutional ideals with political gambling are doing a disservice to the nation.(Published on 21st October 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 43)