Lavanya Opines

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Freedom of Speech & Protest

I am very much disturbed at what has happened at Ramjas College. I was very disturbed when Rohit Vemulla killed himself and issue was politicized. Yet I stayed quite. I was very disturbed when Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested for sedition and news reports emerged that anti-national slogans were shouted in JNU campus. Yet I stayed quite. But this time, things have gone too far.

What is wrong is asking JNU student Umar Khalid in airing his views on ‘Culture of Protest’? Present students are the ones who will be shaping the future of this country. They will become politicians, policy makers, bureaucrats, administrators, and so many other types of professional who will have influence on economic and political situations of the country. Whats wrong then that they want to understand different view points from the same people who were condemned for having different view-point?

Freedom of speech is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Why does it had to be wrapped under ‘nationalism’ and ‘united India’ sentiments? Just because I have some negative opinion about what is currently happening in the country, am I anti-national? Just because I see problems in what you are doing and I express┬ámy views about the same, am I anti-national? Just because I have different political view and follow different political ideology, am I anti-national? Just because I want to protest against something, am I anti-national?

Freedom of speech is not only right to express one owns thoughts but also duty to listen to others expressing themselves. Then why Umar Khalid wasn’t even given a chance to say his piece before the students. What would have happened after hearing him? A student, who was condemned as ‘anti-national’ for holding protest, wasn’t allowed to put forth his views before students about ‘protests’; and further protests followed to ‘protest’ this outcome. Is anyone seeing the irony over here.

I am totally upset and disappointed with Randeep Hooda, Virendra Sehwag, and Yogendra Yadav. They seem to have forgotten that entire generations got involved in freedom movement only because of these so-called ‘anti-national’ view points. Our forefathers went to jail for being ‘anti-nationals’ so that we could have ‘freedom of speech’. I am disappointed because in your so called ‘knowledge’ you have forgotten what is a ‘freedom of speech’ after all. Or should I say, we will be soon seeing you endorsing some political parties and therefore these jibes are your way of earning brownie points.

DU, JNU, and Jamia are places where knowledge is gained, where the knowledge is tested and validated against present times by discussions, where views are exchanged to create opinions, break them, and again create new opinions. Unless we speak what is in our minds, how will we know what is right and what is wrong? Unless we discuss different opinions, view points, ideologies, how will we become a democracy?