The BJP Government seems to be jumping from one crisis to another this year The Rohith Vemula suicide at Hyderabad University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) sedition case with the main star Kanhaiya Kumar deserve to be mentioned. While the BJP government had its back to the wall for the incident at Hyderabad,the BJP had struck back violently at the student community at JNU by slapping a case of sedition against Kathaniya Kumar, a student union president.
The first incident takes place at Hyderabad University. Susheel Kumar, an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyathi Parishad(Student wing of the BJP) activist whose family members are also active members of the BJP wrote on his facebook wall about how there were anti nationalist activities going on in the university and the activity was being carried out by Ambedkar Students Association (A Dalit student group).A few members of the Ambedkar Students Association(ASA) got into a verbal argument with Susheel Kumar over the derogatory tag forcing him to delete the post. However, Susheel escalated the situation by calling in the police and using his connections to ensure that harsh action was taken against the ASA students.He then claimed that he was hospitalized by a minor scuffle when he was actually hospitalized for appendicitis. Rather than letting it be dealt with at the university level ,the Human Resource Development(HRD) ministry itself began interfering, with the controversial minister Smriti Irani demanding action to be taken against the ASA students. Due to sustained meddling,the University authorities were forced to expel the students (who come from very poor backgrounds) which eventually led to Rohith Vemula committing suicide. Both Susheel and the students were at fault, Susheel Kumar for calling the ASA students as anti-nationals for expressing a view and the ASA students for bullying Susheel into removing the post. However, this does not warrant a meddlesome HRD minister to swoop in and suspend the students. .To bring clarity to the topic, the anti national activity that the ASA was accused of was condemning the death penalty that was awarded to Yakub Memon by the Supreme Court. This is not the first time someone has said this and it certainly won’t be the last. The reason is that there is a perception that the judicial system was unfair to him and the death penalty itself is to be abolished. While one may fully disagree with this view it cannot be misconstrued to be shown as a support for terrorism.Neither can one say that a person who calls the execution of Yakub Memon as “judical killing” is anti-national or in cohoots with the ISI(Pakistani spy agency). The protest does not glorify the terrorist but merely questions the judicial approach and the utility of continuing with the death sentence.
The JNU episode was another shameful episode as to how things can take an ugly turn when the state begins to micromanage dissent. The sloganeering of destroying India and the separation of Jammu & Kashmir at the JNU campus must be condemned and the people involved must be brought to book. What is reprehensible is that fact that the Delhi Police overreacted and arrested Kanhaiya Kumar. Kanhaiya Kumar is the student leader of the Left party youth wing and though he did not say anything even remotely amounting to sedition, he is charged with the same. The reason behind it is that he had sloganeered for “Azadi” (Freedom) from the caste system, communal politics of the RSS, poverty etc which cannot be classified as anti-national. While one may not want to believe or admit it, the Delhi commissioner is behaving like a sycophant by letting this absurd episode continue.The Delhi Police has stated “eating beef” and “worshipping the devil” as a seditious act. Even if true,the stated reasons while hurting the sentiments of some people cannot be perceived as anti-national. The drama escalated further with the a violence prone BJP MLA being caught on camera thrashing a CPI member to a pulp for supporting Kanhaiya and no strict action was taken against him. As Kanhaiya was taken to the Supreme court,he was attacked by Hoodlums in lawyer’s robes not once but twice on separate occasions while the police looked on as mute spectators. The most shameful instance was when an individual with black shades walked right upto Kanhaiya and slapped him in full view of the police and walked away with no action being taken against him.The entire episode is so sickening that it was lambasted by the BJP’s own student wing ABVP as three highly placed members stepped down saying that they did not want to be used as a tool for the BJP.
Social engineering seems to be the trick used by political parties to cover up for their mistakes. The Rohith Vemula suicide soon erupted into a leaderless Dalit-student uprising with even the popular PM Narendra Modi being booed while giving a speech. The damage control was to de-hyphenate the issue of caste and the Vemula suicide. The insensitive Smriti Irani claimed that Vemula was not a Dalit but an Other Backward Class(OBC) because his father was an OBC. This is despite the fact that his father abandoned him when he was a toddler and that his mother(a Dalit) had been his entire universe. The Kanhaiya episode is even more ludicrous.The right wing photoshop department was in full swing with edited videos insinuating that Kanhaiya was preaching “azadi” for the Kashmir valley when that was not the case. Not only did this video find itself in social media but began to do the rounds on news channels.The BJP spokeperson Sambit Patra no doubt thrilled with his new I-pad, has been showing edited videos such as the one mentioned above as well as the Image above(Right picture with Indian flag) which is actually a picture of American soldiers at Iwo Jima(an Island in the Pacific Ocean) from World War II!!!(Left Picture).
A quick word about the death penalty. Firstly, the death penalty is something that should not exist anymore in the civilized world. A majority of the countries have abolished it completely with only regressive and brutal regimes like North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China carrying it out. Secondly, The death penalty has not shown to reduce crime in anyway. The entire purpose of the justice system should be on the principle of rehabilitation back into society rather than retribution by the society. Thirdly, it is the conviction rates that needs to be improved and not the severity of the judgement. For example, what is the point if crimes are committed and no one is caught.Worse, what if a crime is committed and the wrong person is caught? That will cause more problems than solving them.The increased convictions would also act as a deterrent that in the event of committing a crime the person will be caught and justice shall be served.Fourthly, while one may think that executing terrorists is a befitting reply it can also backfire on the nation. Separatists in the Kashmir valley have used Afzal Guru’s execution as a rallying point and try to portray the Indian State as an oppressor of the Kashmiri people. This narrative works well in an emotionally charged environment and has ended up alienating the population of the valley even further. Thus, while the execution of Afzal guru was the right thing to do it inevitably made him into a martyr which is going to make the people in the Kashmir valley even more hostile to India.
There are some who say that it would be unpatriotic and anti-national to question the Supreme Court as it would amount to questioning the validity of the constitution. To them one can say if that is the case then the Jats of Haryana are very anti-national and unpatriotic as they have rejected the Supreme Court ruling which said the Jats are not economically backward and hence should not be entitled to government reservations. The rejection of the Supreme Court ruling by them in fact,is so ultimate that they have gone to the extent of virtually conducting a siege on the capital of the country by blocking water, blocking roads leading to the capital, burning vehicles and malls.One would expect that such violence would be not tolerated by the government but it would surprise you to know that the government is going to concede to their demand. A place where resorting to violence,conducting a seige on the capital and destroying public property is not conceived as anti-national but speaking one’s mind is unpatriotic ,little is left to the imagination as to what the future holds for such a place.Lastly, lets not jump to conclusions by branding the Jats as anti-national as well.The Jat agitation was mentioned only to show the ridiculous nature of the whole debate on anti-national activity. If one is still inclined to believe that Jats are anti-national then they may find it ironic that highest ranking general in the Indian Army is a Jat!!!