Stem hate politics

Stem hate politics

The violent attack on eminent Supreme Court lawyer and Team Anna member Prashant Bhusan and the subsequent assault on some of his supporters in the court premises by activists of the Sri Ram Sene and the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena must be strongly condemned. These are attacks not just on individuals but an assault on the right to freedom of speech and expression. Bhushan recently expressed support for a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir. While this is a deeply controversial issue in the country, Bhushan has the right to express his opinion on the subject. The Indian Constitution guarantees him the right to freedom of speech and expression. This isn’t the first time that those who express alternate views on Kashmir have become targets of intimidation and violence. It may be recalled that author, activist Arundhati Roy was heckled and then slapped with sedition charges for saying that Kashmir’s accession to India was not final.

In the name of defending Indian culture and now India’s territorial integrity outfits like the Sri Ram Sene go around unleashing violence. The Sene’s foot soldiers have beaten up girls in bars in Mangalore, ransacked homes in Bangalore where liquour was served at parties, and assaulted those who celebrate Valentines’ Day and so on. Society’s silence has facilitated this outfit to persist with its intolerant, violent and fascist agenda. Worse, the government has handed them with kid gloves. Those who attacked Bhushan and his supporters should be given stern punishment. While most political parties have condemned the attack, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has applauded the thuggery. His response is an incitement to violence and appropriate action must be taken against him as well.

The greatest threat to India today is not from those who question the accession of Kashmir to India or even armed secessionists but from those who do not believe in the idea of India and go about destroying it. India’s founding fathers conceived of this country as a pluralist, secular, tolerant and inclusive country, one where citizens were free to express their ideas and views non-violently. Sadly, this idea of India is being eroded by outfits like the Sri Ram Sene, the Shiv Sena and other fundamentalist organisations and parties. Their moral and political policing must be stopped as it is illegal. The hate ideologies they propagate thrive because they enjoy political patronage. The government must take steps to deny them the oxygen that keeps them alive.

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