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Non-Violent Weapon | JP Gadkari

Saturday 9 March 2024, by J P Gadkari


In our childhood, when the Freedom movement in our country had reached its peak and the Indian National Congress under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi was at the helm, our oldies were also inspired by it, though passively. I remember my grandfather used to sometimes utter a few lines of a then popular patriotic song which literally meant that the instrument used by Gandhi to make cotton thread called TAKLEE, has now become a threatening weapon for the Britishers who were then ruling India.

The patriotic song and those lines in it were full of meaning, inspiration and also some sarcasm. However, somehow it escaped the notice of the most oppressive British rulers of our country then and they did not come out to ban it.

But it is not always like that. Some times the rulers of a country who adopt most oppressive, draconian and undemocratic methods to suppress even a mild criticism or a scholarly analysis done by academicians to express their views against these methods, then they (the rulers) come down heavily on them.

A recent example of Dr Nitasha Kaul, an India born, belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community who now lives in U K amplifies it aptly. She works as a Prof of Politics in the University of West Minister in U K and is an eminent economist too. Being an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), she is entitled to visit India any number of times.

Recently, Dr Kaul was invited by the Govt of Karnataka for participating in a two-day seminar on "Unity & Pluralism" in Bangalore. She arrived on 23rd February 2024 night but was refused entry by the immigration authorities at the Bangalore airport, kept in detention in horrible conditions almost like a criminal and was deported after 24 hours.

Her Crime? No explanation at all by the authorities even after Dr Kaul repearedly asking them except telling her that it is "on the orders of Central Govt". However, according Dr Kaul, the Times of India and NDTV were given to understand that she had an "animus" against India, that she is against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, that she is against the abrogation of Article 370, and that she justifies terrorism in J&K. Dr Kaul emphatically refuted all these charges in an interview she gave to Mr Karan Thaper. It was most surprising that t neither the TOI nor NDTV tried to contact Dr Kaul to get her version against charges being levelled against her.

This is an eye opener to all those Indians who live and work abroad, most of whom having OCI status. They are promised everything under the sky and described as "Ambassadors" of India in their adopted country whenever our Prime Minister visits their country of residence and addresses them at a specially arranged public gatherings.

What if they hold views against the policies being followed by the Govt in office and express them publicly? Will they be treated the same way as Dr Kaul? Hav’nt they got a democratic right of FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION as ensured in our Constitution?

And what about all those "140 crores" who live in India many of whom hold such views and sometimes express them as per the democratic rights and traditions in our country? What about people like Umar Khaleid the student leader of JNU and what about all those who are languishing behind bars for several years without trial in the so-called Elgar Conspiracy case?

But why only talk about those like Dr Kaul? Do we really have the freedom to express our views in the highest democratic forum of our country, our Parliament? If you dare to do it, you have to forfeit your membership of the House. If you ask inconvenient questions or even make a simple demand of a statement from Prime Minister or Home Minister you are suspended for the entire session.

So what even the foreign rulers could not do, our own are practicing it with least respect for our Constitution. The only way things can probably change is to have another Gandhi who can use a NON-VIOLENT WEAPON to bring about that change.

March 7, 2024

(Author: J P Gadkari is a veteran journalist, once the Bangalore bureau chief of Patriot and Link and an honoured name in the mental disabilities welfare sector)

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