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Sacred freedom, enunciated by Gandhi, Tilak being curtailed for 'arbitrary' reasons

By Prem Verma*

Today we are living in dark – the Age of Darkness. Under the present regime no one is able to predict what will happen tomorrow. Which draconian law will get “passed”, who next will be arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), what new “lies” will be told to the citizens, etc. etc. This is the rule of Hindutva homogeneity under the garb of national unity.
Opposition to Government is decried, nay punished. We are looking for 100% similar “yes” men and women and differences have to be crushed. Nothing would please the powers that be if we wore the same dress as ordained, ate the same food, talked the same language, thought the same thoughts. This would be ideal for our patriotism and national unity, and we could overtake all power on earth. So be it.
In this bleak atmosphere, let us remember the Father of the Nation who said, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a long time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it – always.”
Hatred and violence can never win though for sometime they can make us despair. India has braved all cruel rulers in its glorious history and thus present situation cannot last forever. We are inherently strong and with Gandhi’s above inspiring words, the change in the right direction is not far.
What shall we do to keep our spirits high and body intact in this autocratic atmosphere? Again let us recall what Gandhiji said if such a situation arises (we have all his wisdom at our disposal even when he is not alive): “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
It would be cowardice on our part to shrink back from our responsibility towards protecting our sacred Constitution and securing the future for our coming generations.
Only one example shows how callous and hard-hearted this regime is in the way it handled the large migrant population when the sudden complete Lock-down was announced in March 2020. The argument, if any, must have been that to protect people from Corona virus, severe Lockdown was necessary.
Opposition to Government is decried, nay punished. We look for 100% similar yes men and women and differences have to be crushed
Somebody must have said, “What about migrants in various cities who would get stranded with no job, no house, no money, far away from their hometowns, etc.?” The answer might have been, “That is collateral damage.” If we want to save people from Corona, some other people have to be sacrificed.
That is the awful story of migrants walking thousands of kilometres to their homeland, quite a number dying on the way. Migrant lives don’t count.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta in a recent article has eloquently emphasized what liberalism (so sacred to our Constitution writers) is: “All liberals should be interested in is making sure that freedom is not compromised… They will have to ensure that the purpose of public policy and public discourse is to protect freedom and not to stereotype or subordinate another culture or produce a forced uniformity.”
Freedom was also the slogan of Balgangadhar Tilak when he proclaimed, “Freedom is my birthright.” Today that sacred freedom is being curtailed for various arbitrary reasons – what you say is against the Government, your speech hurts the majority community, it is against my religion, you are preaching sedition and terrorism and so on. A cap called “urban naxal” is put on any dissenter’s head.
If Gandhi or Jayaprakash Narayan were alive today, they would stand on the streets and shout to the people to join and protest non-violently against the false arrests, destruction of Constitutional bodies, spread of hatred and divisiveness, attacks on minorities and Dalits. They would fearlessly exercise the freedom of expression and not allow our country to be destroyed.
So once and for all, let us join hands together in non-violent protest against the Government’s selfish machinery and fight for the upliftment of our poor brethren since the poor, the deprived, the hungry, the tribals and the dalits are the conscience of this nation, not the fortunate few at the top of the pyramid exercising their cruel authority for their personal gain.
We are the nation and we will make it a nation for all.
---
*Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas

Comments

Mahesh Soni said…
thoughtfull and sensible write up.

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