By Binoy Viswam
Ever since RSS led BJP has come to power, the democratic spirit of the Constitution has been constantly under attack. In fact democracy itself and its impeccable values are grossly threatened by the managers of state power. In the name of patriotism, attempts have been made to imbibe a totally different variant that has no concern for the masses and have, in return, no love from them. For them, dissent is depicted as a crime and the term anti national has elaborately been used to unleash attack on each one who dared to come in the way of ‘Hindutva’,.
Students, teachers, workers, peasants, dalits, tribals, intellectuals, nobody is spared from sedition charges. Sedition was a strategic project and 124A of the IPC was its dangerous weapon. On every passing day this great country is humiliated by the arrogant misuse of that draconian law. It is a shame on the secular – democratic fabric of the country that was realized through immense struggle and sacrifices. That’s why the recently held National Executive committee of the CPI demanded to scrap off the sedition related 124A from the statutes.
The ideologues of RSS-BJP are eager to glorify this primitive law and they go to the extent of painting it as the synonym for allegiance to the nation. They forget that this law was enacted by the British colonial masters in 1870 to brutally suppress the Indian freedom movement. It is an insult to any freedom loving people that such a colonial piece of law continues to remain untouched even after seven decades of independence. It is the most atrocious face of the colonial past, slavishly celebrated by the ruling classes of independent India.
A freedom loving people who cherished the glorious saga of the struggle for emancipation cannot tolerate this paradox anymore. For the RSS-BJP, who had no role in the Indian freedom struggle, 124A-sedition might be an attractive and lovable cause. Hence, they rush to it every now and then to stifle down the voice of protest. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation held section 124A as a ‘rape of the word law’. He further termed it as the ” prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen “.
Under Modi rule it has been often used against the masses and the committed activists. Its sole intention is to suppress their genuine aspirations. This section of IPC is in direct contradiction with article 19 of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of opinion and expression. In letter and spirit, it runs against Article 14 (equality before law, equal protection) and article 21(right to life and personal liberty). One can only wonder how such a repressive law be allowed to do its rounds without any inhibitions.
The country witnessed on various occasions, the blatant misuse of 124 A, as it happened in the Kedar Nath case (1962) to Kanhaiyya Kumar case (2015). Massive resistance to this was always there and the government was not ready to heed the people’s voice. It was widely in application across the country during the anti CAB-NRC agitations. The campuses, when they rose to defend academic freedom had to pay heavy prices. Human rights activists, not in small numbers were put behind bars. Journalists and intellectuals were not spared. In that long list now came Aiysha Sultana, the young film maker from Lakshadweep. The Atmanirbhar government of Modi-Shah combine seamlessly resort to the colonial weapon of the foreign rulers to teach their ugly lessons to the fellow citizens of free India.
Recent verdicts from the Supreme Court on Vinod Dua case should have been an eye opener for the government. Again, the high Court of Delhi in the much-discussed case of the JNU-Jamia students was explicit in saying “in its anxiety to suppress the dissent and the morbid fear that matters may go out of hand. The state has blurred the line between constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity”. If the government has any regard for democratic values and judicial wisdom it is high time, they should have repealed 124A.
A mere look at the very definition of 124A would help us to understand the criminal intention of the makers of sedition law. 124A of the IPC reads “…whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation, or otherwise brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempt to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added.”
By enacting this law, the colonial rulers were aiming to prevent people’s disaffection towards them. The government of free India after 71 years making use of the same law to extract people’s affection for them is shameful. The people are ready to love their country, but they are not expected to love a government that brings burden, hardships and hatred on them. (IPA Service)