'Aadhaar' in toilet, 'anti-national' chutney

Freedom of expression found its best expressions not just in talks and events at various sessions, but even at unlikely places, from the food court to the toilet.

Those who used men's washroom found 'Aadhaar is Slavery' written on urinals with leaflets dropped down in toilets, "a policy that needs to be flushed down" as some commented.

Journalist Charles Assisi, who moderated a session on Aadhaar, could not help but dwell on the lavatory protest. "That's an expression of someone who is opposed to Aadhaar. But we need to ask ourselves why someone has been forced to take the debate to a lavatory instead of a public platform. What has caused us to force someone to take recourse to such places," he asked.

Assisi's cry for free speech was, however, tested on the same platform when the audience shouted out not to "drag on" his speech as a moderator. The journalist acknowledged the demand and ended his long monologue with a few words.

Elsewhere, young college students engrossed in a debate around 'bhel puri' when suddenly one of them, a girl, said, "Excuse me, I need to get some anti-national chutney". It took no time for those in the group to understand she was referring to the green chutney made of mint and green also refers to the minority community, which has been complaining of persecution.

Former JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar put things in perspective as he asked what effective role a literature festival in a five-star hotel can play in the life of those struggling in villages with their voices suppressed.

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