I’m not a Hindu extremist, which means apart from not asking my children to not celebrate the Valentine’s Day because it isn’t fit for our culture’, I won’t ever be one of the many enthusiasts equipped with a napkin who would wipe the ass of any political party driven by Hinduism every time it takes a dump. Having said that, I would now assert that I am a nationalist. It is likely to confuse you a bit because a major percentage of India’s young writers and thinkers seem driven by a belief in the fact that supporting any cause that is against the government or protests against its actions and demands justice will eventually make them look politically sound and more importantly, pro-human rights, which in turn has made them write in a manner that has merged the picture of an Indian nationalist and a Hindu extremist completely and which has since then reflected this merged picture as that of a ‘Hindu Nationalist.’ However these two entities are entirely exclusive of each other and therefore when I say I’m a nationalist, I want you to read it without any prefix.
Since Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU Students Union was charged and arrested for anti-nationalist activities that mainly included protesting against the prosecution of Afzal Guru, a lot has happened in Delhi and a lot of people have raised their voices against it. The orientation of these voices is in many directions but primarily, while some are protesting because the motive behind his protest was accurate, some others who may not agree with that particular idea are protesting because it is against democracy and damages a person’s freedom of speech. I must agree that the argument here point on. If a government arrests a particular person for voicing his opinion, it sure is a damaging act to both – the democracy and the person’s freedom of speech. However in a situation like this, where the temerity of the speech goes on rising just because the democracy is lenient and allows it to rise, and goes beyond a certain level where it can become a reason to provoke anarchy, I wonder if freedom of speech still remains a right or does it become a privilege that has been misused? As a writer and a person who finds freedom of speech a basic right, it hurts me to call any kind of freedom a privilege but in cases as such, it becomes essential and just the right thing to do.
When a person is charged for a terrorist activity which precisely happens to be a violent attack on the nation’s parliament and after an imprisonment of 12 years – a time span in which no evidence of his complete innocence is found or collected in his defence, I believe he can rightly be declared as an enemy of the nation. And any enemy of the nation who tries to thwart the peace of its people rightly deserves a death penalty. I don’t think anyone would want to conflict with this idea. And further, that is what exactly happened in the case of Afzal Guru. Many Muslim Kashmiris believe that he was a hero, a martyr. The intensity of their words honestly keeps me from calling him a villain because I respect their opinions, however I won’t hesitate to say that Afzal Guru was an antagonist. In that respect, he was rightly sentenced to die for that would safeguard the conscience of the nation and I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that no individual is at any point of time, greater than the nation. That’s my stance about Afzal Guru’s death.
Now, when we come to think of the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU Students’ Union, for protesting against this very death penalty of Afzal Guru, I would repeat and ask you, how much of his protest looks like an act under freedom and how much of it looks like the misuse of a privilege? While reading about this incident in the newspapers, I came across a statement by Kanhaiya Kumar’s father in which he had asserted that his son wasn’t an anti-nationalist, but only a leftist. It was funny because the term leftist covers a wide segment of ideologies and as much as it represents communists, it also as much represents anarchists and Kanhaiya Kumar’s protest indeed seemed to be fuelled with some kind of anarchic motives, if it wasn’t for just instant popularity. And that exactly is the biggest tragedy of any democracy. Due to the wide freedom it imparts, a democracy knowingly and sometimes even helplessly, boosts speeches and expressions that are a threat to its own subjects. In such cases I wonder if democracy should continue playing by its rules or not. Sometimes, to crush anarchy, a democracy requires to be reckless, restricting and even suppressive. And if that is going to safeguard and guarantee peace and order, as a nationalist, I believe that is the exact thing a democracy should do in such times – not because it is right, but because it is necessary.