By Rayees Rasool:
From Indian educational institutions to the Indian Courts, justice has been buried, voices choked, humans lynched, students branded terrorists and then they called it a ‘Nation’.
India proudly says that it is a country of different civilisations, religions, communities etc. But the present regime, which is behaving like dictators, is creating a very different image of this country. We can see the ultra-nationalist fascist face of the government. It seems we can’t decide what to eat, what to say, whom to love, what to read and how to live.
Is our democracy afraid of a small group of unarmed students? Students who were trying to express their solidarity with a person who seemingly became the victim of political vendetta. Those young men and women expressed solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been living under a military occupation since this country became free. Abraham Lincoln put it like this: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
The whole drama is about the event at Jawaharlal Nehru University on 9th of February, 2016 organised by a few students. There was nothing unusual about it. But what’s different about what is happening today is the interference by the state.
If you believe in a democratic set up then you ought to be tolerant towards other people. Democracy means respecting dissent.
Who organised the event in JNU or who shouted the slogans is not what matters. What matters is why those slogans were raised. Why hundreds of young men and women shouted and demanded the freedom of Kashmir. Why those hundreds of students shouted in favour of Afzal Guru or Maqbool Bhat.
It’s time to introspect why, after 65 years of Independence, Kashmiris are not happy with the government. When the government confirms there are about 200 armed rebels operating in Kashmir, why is the whole population under siege?
Using force and booking students under serious crimes will not help. The more force you use, the more rebels you will create.
This whole problem is the creation of mainstream corporate media houses. Every night in their newsrooms, they decide who is a nationalist and who is anti-national. Every night, they decide who should live where. Every night there is a media trial which declares students, activists, democratic organisations and human rights groups as terror groups. This jingoistic approach of the Indian media will lead to their ruin.
The media is supposed to inform people. But it seems that what they do is to misinform and divert attention from important issues. These matters are left for the political and business elite to decide upon. The renowned linguist and activist, Noam Chomsky, who has been raising this issue of media manipulation has identified 10 strategies for manipulating public sentiment. One of them, “using the emotional side more than reflection,” is what our media seems to be using with this issue. It prevents a rational discussion on real issues. Using such strategies, the corporate media helps the system to excercise greater control over the people. Today, it seems that fascist forces, media trials, the government and the police are all complementing each other to choke the voices of dissent.
But there is one positive thing about incidents like those that took place at JNU, Hyderabad University, Film and Television Institute of India, or the protests over non-NET fellowships. A united student community came forward in all these. All big revolutions start like this.
The youth of India will stand against every injustice be it Rohith Vemula, Afzal Guru or the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar. They will speak and speak loudly. Allowing people to debate on different political and social issues is not a crime. We must agree to disagree. Dissent is not sedition.