By Vijay Darda | 11-09-2017
The freedom of expression is for everyone but the chaos spread over social media is not right for anyone
Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and now Gauri Lankesh..! There is a commonality among these four; that they were free-thinkers and expressed their thoughts with courage and zeal. All four of them have this similarity that the people who feared their freedom of thought, killed them in a cowardly manner. The only difference is that after the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, there was a storm of hate in the social media; it was flowing earlier but its intensity has never been at this alarming level.
After the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, people naturally expressed their anger. Thinkers, litterateurs, journalists and enlightened citizens have, in decent words, flayed those who want to destroy the freedom of thought through terror. It is surprising that many people did not even like the idea of flaying the killers of Gauri. The self-proclaimed supporters of neonationalism created such an outrage on social media and started using such a language which I can not even mention in this article. The atmosphere of gruesome abusive behaviour has started. Thinkers do not use abusive language. So those who condemned the killing of Gauri thought it prudent to keep quiet. It seems that this attempt to suppress the voice of resistance is a new story of a new era. It is being attempted that if someone dares to speak against a particular ideology, he or she should be insulted in such a way that he will think it better to keep quiet. Will India’s democracy run like this?
Under Article 19(1) of Indian Constitution, all citizens have been given freedom of expression. In the Article 19 of the United Nations Human Rights Declaration, it has been clarified that every person is free to exchange ideas and information. It is clear that democracy will survive only if the citizens have the freedom to express their views. We all agree that there are thoughts which are opposed to some other thoughts. It is the desire of every thinker that those who believe in different ideologies leave their beliefs and agree with the new ideology, but it is not necessary that this always is the case! In such a situation, if freedom of thought is being attacked then I believe that this is an attack on the democracy.
India is one of the countries in the world where people belonging to different communities, castes, ideas, beliefs and different customs live. We are so big that the culture of one part of the country does not match the culture of the other. What you see in the North-Eastern states and the ideology that you believe in are different from the southern part of the country or western part. How can you think that people of the South should follow Eastern India or people of Eastern India should start thinking like people of western India? Actually, diversity is the biggest identity of India. Respect for diversity has only kept us united. If we try to attack this culture of diversity and want to see everyone in our own manner then there will be resistance that can be dangerous for the country.
I have a clear belief that freedom of expression can not be an unnecessary freedom. But I also believe that thoughts can only be fought with thoughts, not by the bullet! You shot Gandhiji dead as you did not agree with him, you gunned down Indiraji as you disagreed with her and you killed Rajivji as you did not agree with him too! There are countless killings in the name of ideology! How can any civil society tolerate such a behaviour? Trying to get people to toe the line using abuse, baton and the bullet, is actually going to take people back to the time when they lived in the clan. The ancient tribals used to behead people of another tribe and decorate their severed heads in their homes. Are we returning to the same tribal mindset?
There is no doubt that there should not be any immediate allegation on the killing of Gauri Lankesh. But it is also not right that Gauri Lankesh should be abused for her ideology. And who are hurling the abuses? These are people who have no social status. These are lumpen elements that have got access to free social media and they are misusing the medium writing thoughtlessly. So the question is: Will the peddlers of hatred continue to spread the poison of hatred? Should there be no action against them? We have a cyber cell that can take legal action, but when the whole system has been compromised how can you expect them to deliver the goods? The government should think about how to stop the storm of hatred because this storm of hate is hell-bent on eroding democracy. If there is such a storm in the name of caste and religion, how will our country become great?
Before I conclude…
A couple in Surat donated the heart of their 14-month-old dead child Somnath Shah and gave new life to three-and-a-half year old Aradhya from Navi Mumbai. There can be no greater donation than this in the world. It is very inspirational. Of course, the inclination of people towards organ donation has increased but our country is still far from reaching the decent target in this matter. Thousands of people die as they do not get organs. The precious life of such people can be saved from organ donation.