When Nationalism And Free Speech Bow Before A Double “Shri” Godman
09 February, 2016
In the past few months the country saw raging debate on nationalism, free speech and tax payers’ money being misused on educational institutions like JNU. Debate is very encouraging in a democratic society. But the sad thing is that it fell into a stage that storm troopers of the ruling party manhandling students, teachers and journalists. Sedition cases being filed on students. Acid like substance poured on Adivasi activist Soni Sori. On top of all that a dalit scholar, Rohith Vemula, forced to commit suicide after being hounded by these same forces.
The justification for all these was given as that the free speech we enjoy in India was provided by the brave soldiers guarding the national borders. We salute the brave soldiers guarding the borders. But we have serious reservations on who created these borders and who put these soldiers there, including in Siachen, one of the most inhospitable places for human beings on earth. However, we hope Srinagar is not on the border, but it is one of the most militarized cities in the world. Kashmir is one of the most militarized places on earth. In Kashmir and North East our brave soldiers enjoy Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which allows immunity to soldiers against which the Iron Lady of Manipur Irom Sharmila is on a 15 year old indefinite fast. After all, ours is a country which saw the Bofors Scam, Westland Helicopter scam and even Kargil coffin scam!
Article 19 of Constitution of India guarantees the Freedom of speech and expression. Of course, the soldiers guarding our borders guarantee that the constitution is implemented in the truest spirit in the country. We should salute their bravery, by risking their life they guarantee along with other pillars of our democracy the implementation of our constitution.
The constitutional mandate for our soldiers is to help the implementation of the constitution. What if they are forced to build bridges to help the celebration of World Cultural Festival organized by a Godman Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, an event authorization of which was even questioned by National Green Tribunal! The Delhi government told the National Green Tribunal that the event has no police or fire safety clearances. On 16th February Countercurrents.org had published an Open Letter By Concerned Citizens titled "Encroachment And Destruction Of Yamuna Floodplains".
Now our brave soldiers are forced into the mundane task of building bridges for the “Shri Shri” event, the question naturally comes to our mind is that are we degrading our soldiers by depriving them from their primary duty of guarding the borders so that we all can have free speech? Are we paying our tax money, which of course is being used to pay the salary of our brave soldiers, to build bridges for a private ceremony organized by a self styled god man? The Nation demands an Answer.