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[:en]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.

The views expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the policy or views of the IHEU.[:de]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.[:zh]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.[:fr]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.[:ru]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.[:pb]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.[:ar]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.[:es]By Vidita Priyadarshini Vi, YouthSpeak February

John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

To celebrate this very idea of diversity of opinion and thought, and allow platforms of opinion-building, Indian jurisprudence has grappled with questions of ‘limits’ to freedom of expression, and what constitutes ‘reasonable’ free-speech. However, here and there, we see attempts to clamp down on subversive speech — to ‘clean’ it up or make it more palatable.

On February 9, 2016, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India, organised a protest against the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Protesters made arguments against capital punishment, and the political motivations behind this particular case. Some protesters also allegedly talked of Kashmiri liberation. Subsequently, the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, was arrested under charges of sedition, and ‘criminal conspiracy.’  The law enforcement agencies were on a witch-hunt to find the students participating in the program.

​The sedition law has been used to silence any form of critique or dissent. An archaic law with colonial origins (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code), which was utilised to quell anti-colonial speech, is now continuously applied to repress anti-government stances. The Indian Constituent Assembly debates were stuck on the question of sedition, but ultimately excluded sedition as a restriction on free-speech, due to the experience of continuous misuse of the sedition law by the British colonial government. Many democracies have abandoned this understanding of sedition, in the interests of protecting the human right to freedom of speech, and have limited it to an act with interest in causing violent action.​

The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was baseless — he was not an organiser of the program held on February 9th. On February 12, 2016, he made an eloquent speech on freedom from social evils such as casteism and hunger, just before his arrest. However, the anti-JNU sentiment amplified when certain media houses ran doctored videos (which had gone viral on the internet) showing Kumar shouting ‘separatist’ and ‘anti-national’ slogans. Consequently, the incident triggered a widespread debate on nationalism and patriotism.

As the country argues over the merits of this case, one has to wonder if universities in India will now become spaces where one has to take a measure of caution before voicing their opinions? Earlier in 2016, 5 students from University of Hyderabad were expelled on the grounds of being ‘anti-national’, because they organised a program against capital punishment being awarded to Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts. One of the students Rohith Vemula committed suicide under immense pressure. Several protests broke out across India, deeming it an ‘institutional murder’, however, an adequate response has not yet come from the side of the administration.  In August 2015, a bunch of goons from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, violently disrupted a screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai, in a college in University of Delhi. The documentary focused on the 2013 riots that occurred in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of local political parties in fueling them.

If one is disallowed from rejecting a dominant notion, what criticality will we be left with? A university is meant for critical analysis of the society’s collective conscience. If universities are to become a place for a defense of the status-quo, they will not be fulfilling their duty. The attempt to dilute of such a space for exploration of ideas and opportunities to debate and discuss is an affront to our constitutional values.

The arbitrariness with which the law has been applied in the JNU case is primarily due to the political motivations behind this case. Despite the high standards set through various legal precedents by the Indian judiciary, the thought-police in this country seeks to bar this fundamental right of expression. The police and lower courts continue to ignore this precedent. One of the most important principles of prosecution i.e. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ has been thrown in the dump, as is evident by Delhi Commissioner of Police’sstatement “I would say if the police is looking for them then they should join the police investigation. And if they are innocent, they should present evidence of their innocence.”

India remains trapped in the colonial legacy. The vagueness of the definition of sedition has allowed for gross misuse of this law. There have been many incidents where this law has been used to target activists, authors, cartoonists.  Kanhaiya Kumar and the other five students named in this case are a scapegoat in this witchhunt. No legal case can be made against them, given the precedents set by the judiciary. However, a social case has already been made against him. Several threats of murder and rape to their family members have been made. In an atmosphere of terror, their family members dare not step out of the house.

The important question we must ask ourselves is whether we can allow all our achievements as a democracy to be strangulated by a ghastly remnant of the colonial times. In these times, we must also remind ourselves of the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the force behind the Constitution:

“There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

The last ten days have been tumultuous. A small victory emerged when 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Delhi on February 19, 2016, protesting the wrongs done by the state apparatus, and defending the right to free speech. Statements of solidarity have flown in from universities and academics across the world. But even as we wage our wars, in the real and the virtual world alike, we must remember the collective echo of “Abhi toh ye angdayi hai, aage aur ladayi hai…” (This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go in our fight.)

As Humanists, we are all affected by this fight, and must stand by them.

Vidita Priyadarshini Vi is editor of the YouthSpeak.[:]

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