Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Those of us who witnessed what happened when the goons demolished Babari Masjid in 1992 and later assaulted journalists covering the incident can vouch that it is almost after 25 years that we are witnessing the same kind of situation in India. We have not forgotten how the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders proclaimed proudly that they demolished the Babari Mosque and then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh wanted to use the situation for his own political growth when he claimed that,’ he is ready to go the jail for contempt of the court as his bigger court is ”lord Rama’s court’ and we know how he went to ‘jail’ proudly with slogan shouting supporters. There are many in their ‘respected’ team who still believe India to be governed by Manusmriti laws where the Dalits, aadivasis and women do not have any fundamental rights and whatever the Brahmin say become rule of law.
It is well known fact that media build the frenzy and today when electronic media has reached in our bed rooms such frenzy seems to be planned strategy of the Sangh Parivar and its allies who control our media. Each incident that is happening and where they are uncomfortable is being blown out of proportion and then screaming anchors are turning into a public debate. Problem with this is that governance is lost some where and we are back to Hindu-Muslim debate which is the favorite of the BJP and its hardliners.
The things that unfolded in Patiala house yesterday brought back the memories of Ayodhya 1992 when journalists reporting there were beaten up and abused. The shout of Jai Shree Ram became the test of nationalism. If you don’t think Ram as your ancestor or God then you are a Haramzaada, was the favorite quote during those hey days. Today, they have understood that one slogan will not work as due to their inability to carry masses with them they are using the media to whip up passion and change the political discourse.
None of us who are in public life need to swear by nationalism in symbols. A nation is much bigger than mere ‘jumlas’. If follow our constitution and its preamble and are following our constitutional duties as citizens of the country, we are nationalists. India will have to define that street goons just because they are carrying tri-color in their hand become ‘nationalists’ and got right to lynch any one who they think disagree with them. Such goons must be identified and brought to justice. Threats, intimidation and physical assault must be condemned at all level and the state must protect the citizens.
A lot of time the issues come before us as why despite a great constitution we still have violence against the marginalized, Women are burnt due to dowry, untouchability is practiced not just in the villages but also in cities, manual scavenging is still prevalent and Dalit face caste discrimination in the so called modern universities. Why is that AAdivasis are still isolated, people are dying of hunger and there is unrest in various parts of the country. You cannot crush people’s voices for justice in the name of bogey of nationalism every time there is an unrest in the country or society. Failing in responding to the issues concerning the people, we try to bully them through counter political agenda.
What happened at the Patiala House court yesterday brought disgrace to the country. It was nothing but fear of those who swear in the name of constitution, to provide justice, that the case against Kanhaiya might not sustain in the courts. Lawyers are the protectors of law and need to abide by the law. We know well that constitution provide opportunity to defend them at all level. An accused does not become convict just because Arnab Goswami , Delhi Police or RSS want like that without giving him a chance to defend himself. An incident has happened in the University and all it needed was an investigation by the local teachers or their committee and if recommend to the authorities if a criminal case was to be filed. Instead, we see that not only the police intimidated students by entering inside the campus but political masters mobilise people outside to discredit an entire institution terming it as anti national.
We all know that these street hooliganism wrapped in slogan shouting ‘nationalist’ slogans is an to promote the idea of lynch mob and Talibani justice where you can kill a person at your whims just because he or she did not follow your diktats. If trial takes place in the media houses and public places can we expect justice. If we allow free to all kind of situation can we expect that this country will move forward in the right direction. Believe me our condition then will be worst than Taliban as we will find hundreds of such cases daily at every village if mobs are allowed to provide justice. Can we save our children from becoming criminal once such practices are widely ‘accepted’ as norms.
What is this fear when you have your own government and its machinery? A fairly large number of TV channels are following the government diktats and promoting ruling party’s agenda shamelessly rather than reporting news. Kanhaiyya Kumar is an accused under sedition law and was being produced in the court. The channels have already declared him convict along with other RSS organisations but the courts, as long as we have a democratic set up will have to look into entire sequence and constitutionality.
Every law abiding citizen and political party should have understood that the first days incident brought shame to India that we don’t allow judiciary to function independently. The Supreme Court had issued clear guidelines and restricted entry in the court rooms and yet when Kanhaiyya was being produced the same bunch of goons appeared to attack him shouting Vande Mataram. Was this an attempt to polarize the law fraternity and intimidate judiciary? My opinion is yes, because they had realized the writings on the wall and now want to convert it into a massive political battle to be used in various states which go to poll in the coming months as much to the future of this government lies with the outcome of Assam, West Bengal, Tamilnadu and finally Uttar Pradesh where things are not easier for the saffron party.
It was unprecedented situation when the Supreme Court had to send five senior most lawyers to the Patiala House to look into the emerging condition there with agitating lawyers and security of the accused and those accompanying him. In every profession people respect their seniors even when they might belong to diverse ideological background but what we saw in Patiala House courts was absolute goondagardi and lumpenism which only the Sangh Parivar elements and their mouthorgans in the media can know justify through counter attack and distorting the information. No person having faith in democracy and independence of judiciary can justify it. Eminent lawyer Rajiv Dhawan said he was abused in the worst possible way along with others. The Committee reported that they would have been lynched if there was no police protection that time. Abusing and intimidating to those who have been appointed by the highest court of land to oversee a crisis is itself anti national and against the spirit of the constitution. It is requested to Supreme Court, local courts and bar council to not only cancel their license to practice but also prosecute them for dishonoring the constitution.
I have mentioned many time that those who are giving certificate of ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ to all of us actually never had faith in the Constitution of India framed by Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar. They might hate Saudi Arabia, Taliban or Pakistan for political purposes but in the heart of their heart they want India to be turned like that. Their role model remain Sharia laws or kangaroo courts operated there where all the dissenters are accused and they have no right to defend them. Accused are publically lynched and lashed to ‘protect’ Islam and the laws in the name of Islam. India’s Hindu right wing aspire an India of the same variety where their lynch mob pronounce verdict at the streets or at the Timesnow, Zee News, India TV and other TV channels heavily supported by the Sangh supporting capitalists. They have no time to discuss the issues of common people, the atrocities on the poor people, forest dweller and women. Rather they are sitting there to find gaps in the protest movements and justify the misdeeds of their masters. They have brought shame to entire profession of media and forgotten their professional duties and insulted humanity. Despite our differences, we still respect many of the friends who have reported against prejudices in deeply disgusting and difficult situations.
Political and ideological differences are bound to happen in a democratic society but what is happening here in India is an attempt to bulldoze the political opponents and paint each one of them as ‘anti national’. While we refuse to respond these ‘nationalists’ whose sole aim is to protect their brahmanical status quo which is fast losing ground and slipping. Therefore, they are making all efforts to destroy institutions of judiciary, media and academia which secular polity (with all differences and weaknesses) have been able to built up over the years. This will be the biggest challenge how to bring back democracy and sanity in these institutions.
As Supreme Court hear the petitions and probably must be worried about the situation prevailing in the country today, it is time they give unambiguous and blunt signals to those in power to protect the independence of judiciary. If the lawyers or those who claim to believe in constitutionalism truly believe in it, it is time for them to decide whether they believe in mob justice or due process of law. If they believe that our courts are unable to provide justice and therefore they need to provide justice in the street then all of them must voluntarily leave their profession. If they don’t do so the Bar Association and Supreme Court must act to save their profession from further degradation.
There is nothing new in the entire episode as Sangh double speak is well known. They will justify the act through using various contradictions and playing other stories in the media through their ‘devotees’ there. Prime Minister talked of constitution and we know well who formed a commission to ‘change the constitution’ in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime and thanks to the Supreme Court which clearly said that basic structure of the constitution can not be amended.
A few things emerged from the incident at Patiala House yesterday. One that the politicians masquerading as lawyers wanted to create such a scenario in the court absolutely like Babari Masjid demolition to politically use it and create absolute frenzy in the country. It is serious and the court must come out clearly on the same. The lawyers who did it are well known and need to be arrested and debarred from practicing as the credibility and strength of judiciary is at stake at the moment. Whether a police commissioner will follow the orders of the Supreme Court or just ignore it follow the diktats of his political masters.
Second, Supreme Court must provide clearcut guidelines to electronic media. We can not ignore the fact that heavily paid media has launched a vilification campaign on the entire issue. Can the media pronounce some one criminal before the things come before the court? Is not it an attempt to influence judiciary?
Third, Supreme Court must ask the lower courts and high courts to do away with frivolous petitions against individuals in the name of nationalism just to intimidate people. The Hindutva politics is clearly multifold to intimidate people from street to the courts. It is time courts particularly at the lower level must be instructed clearly to verify the locus standi of a person to file such frivolous petitions.
The nation is looking to the Supreme Court today for its instructions will have far reaching impact on our polity and judiciary as well. We hope it will not disappoint all those who have faith in the rule of law and our republican democratic secular constitution. For the people, it is time to protect these values and be alert from the forces who want to subvert the constitution and create absolute anarchy in the country.