By Sushil Kutty
Sometimes the Supreme Court says something of great import and then leaves it behind like it was a no account fleeting thought. Take the archaic sedition law. Earlier this year, the apex court said it was time for India “to define the limits of the sedition law.” The Supreme Court was speaking in the context of media freedom. Now, the Yogi Adityanath Government has taken it in the context of the outcome of an India-Pakistan T-20 match.
The Yogi Adityanath Government did not expect a Pakistan victory. But Babar Azam won and Viraat Kohli lost. And three Kashmiri students studying in an Uttar Pradesh college couldn’t stop themselves from cheering Pakistan’s victory over India. The Yogi Government slapped the sedition charge on them and one Kashmiri political analyst couldn’t believe that sedition and UAPA could be slapped on Kashmiris for cheering a Pakistan victory.
“What’s got into you blokes? You cannot change a long set mindset in just two short years? So what if Article 370 has been abrogated, you have to give them time, point out to them the errors of their ways,” he said on TV. He is right. The youth of Kashmir have grown up on a diet of seeing army and police fighting “Kashmiri freedom fighters”, some of them imported from Pakistan.
They also saw stone pelting in the streets. There’s also the “Islam thing” and it’s not easy to “grow up Indian” given such surround sounds. Cricket did not help. It was quite “natural” for “Kashmiri Muslims” to clap and cheer a Pakistan victory over India. They have been clapping for years. Their parents clapped and the parents did not stop them or warn them. It’s like the celeb father who did not tell his son that psychotropic drugs do harm to both body and mind.
The fact of the matter is the Supreme Court should have followed up its thoughts on “sedition” with proper action. But the top court is also human at its core. And one of man’s weaknesses is procrastination. Leave things to a later generation, which doesn’t do well to this or the next generation. Also it gives regimes like that of Yogi Adityanath the fig leaf of political advantage.
The three Kashmiri students – two aged 20 and one aged 21 – have been charged with “sedition” and placed behind bars. Their lives are ruined. Their college-ing is over. Their distraught families are “begging”. Their hostels are aghast. All because of a T-20 match and the “victory of Islam” as a Pakistan minister and a couple of Pakistani ex-cricketers put it.
Question is didn’t the Modi Government know Pakistan is “enemy”? Demands were made that India shouldn’t play the match, not when “people” were being killed for their faith in Kashmir and there was an ongoing battle to death with Pak-sponsored terrorists in Poonch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah did not pay heed to the demands and the next thing you know the “enemy” had won!
Some Kashmiris cheered. Now “sedition” and “unlawful activities prevention act” have come into play. And Yogi Adityanath saw an opening. This close to the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, he would be considered a political dolt if he did not jump at the chance to communally polarize. Doesn’t matter if at the end of the day sedition in this case doesn’t stand a chance in the top court.
It is the “now” that matters to the Yogi. His action to teach the Kashmiri students a lesson is moored in his craving to win a second term, especially when it looks dicey that he will be able repeat 2017 in 2022. The Kashmiri students should have known better. But how could they, when not even the Congress saw Narendra Modi come to power in 2014?
What did they expect when they cheered and clapped, when they sang Pakistan’s national anthem? Clamouring for the restoration of Article 370 is one thing, but to clamour for “Pakistan banega Kashmir” at the time of an “Indian debacle” is quite another. No government at the Centre – not even Congress or CPI/CPM – would agree to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan to keep Kashmiris in humour!
Also, even Congress governments at the Centre have used the sedition law. It is the UAPA slapped on the students of Government Medical College and the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) which should be opposed. UAPA is an anti-terror law. Aspiring doctors and surgeons of GMC and SKIMS did not know what they were clapping their ways into! Now, they can forget the scalpel and the stethoscope. It’s a pity. Only the Supreme Court or a change in government in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre can save them from the rigours of UAPA and sedition. (IPA Service)