Muzzling The Dissent

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Representation Pic

TMR. Mohsin

“I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, said E.B Hall.

Today’s era is the era of democracy, a system fraught with significant provisions be it Fundamental rights, universal adult franchise, citizenship, separation of powers, due process of law, independent judiciary or the constitution itself. Among them, the fundamental rights, identified in constitution, are the core essence of democracy which are pivotal in upholding and protecting the freedom and Liberty of citizens.

In this regard India being world’s largest democracy promises six fundamental rights to everyone irrespective of his faith, caste, creed and colour. The right to freedom of speech and expression is an important civil right given under article 19 (1) (a) of Indian constitution. It means the right to express one’s own convictions and opinions freely. For the holistic development of a country dissent and disagreement are a must which should not only be permitted but encouraged also.

Ironically the spirit of freedom of expression doesn’t seem to have been imbibed by the people at large when we pragmatically analyze it. The recent tragic incident of advocate Babar Qadri can be cited a glaring example of intolerance and grudge that was shot dead by unidentified assailants outside his house. The attack came three days after Qadri tweeted about a possible threat to his life, but was not provided the security which questions the assurance of constitution to safeguard our rights.

Introspection: courts are temples of justice with which millions of hopes are pinned. If these reputed institutions begin to prioritize political activism whereas less focus on its pious profession how come the helpless seek out panacea to his/her grievances? Especially when despair is ubiquitous, breach of justice is the order of day, harassment and illegal detention are the norm then the role of court becomes far more essential.

Nowadays the blood has become so cheap that we hardly bother to remind such gory incidents for a good time. It fades away from our minds even before the blood dries up. Perhaps people are used to it now! As the rampant human rights abuses in J&K has made it ‘a new Normal’. The report by the office of the UN high commission for human rights (OHCHR)released on July 8 2019 enumerates Human rights abuses in J&K from mass killings, enforced disappearances , torture, rape and sexual abuses to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. Infact there has been a continuous surge in them.

J&K coalition of civil society reported that conflict related causalities were the highest in 2018 with 586 people killed including 267 members of armed groups, 159 security forces personnel and 160 civilians. Interestingly the blame game is played from all sides while ignoring their own responsibility of abuses. It’s pertinent to quote Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asian director that “authorities in both the countries (India and Pakistan) should use the opportunity…to change course and hold accountable those who have committed serious abuses.” After all it’s the civilian population who bears the brunt.

Post script: let’s hope the criminals are brought to justice. On the other hand it’s time to inculcate the sense of tolerance, equality and trait of acceptance of dissent within us and start from ourselves by respecting the arguments of others because a true citizen can’t answer the violence through violence. As Martin Luther jr has beautifully put it “darkness can’t drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate can’t drive out hate only love can do that.”

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