When ABVP stopped Umar Khalid from entering the premises of Ramjas college, in a “fear” of creating another JNU, it only led to violence. It always does. Whenever men have tried to stop other men from exercising their freedom, violence has taken precedence. It doesn’t matter who drew first blood. Umar Khalid may be wrong. He may be biased. He may be a trouble maker. But the fact remains, the constitution allows him to be so.
India, the largest democracy in the world; an independent sovereign state since 1950, became so, on the foundation laid by 200 years of dissent. The Article 1 of our constitution states “India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states”. Truth being spoken, India is a biological amalgamation of strong socio-political opinions, strongly dissenting with each other. Take a look at our prized pride of history, Chanakya, before he acquired that name had dissented against the kingdom of Magadh, when the king and his subjects remained unmoved in the face of Alexander’s invasions. Shivaji Maharaj dissented against the Mughals sultanate and laid down the cornerstone for a Maratha empire. Dissent by the soldiers at Barrackpore and Meerut had led to the First War of Independence in 1857.
Point being, dissent in not anti-national. Despite alleged slogans of Azadi of a land so far up North that most have developed notions without ever setting foot on the land. The situation in Kashmir is the Indian equivalent of the biological weapons of North Korea. We have all heard about it, criticise it, some idolise it, but mostly just gossip about it. But Kashmir remains to be an important part of India and not just for the ego boosting of our country. Kashmir provides India with strategical advantages against our beloved estranged neighbours, is a source of great streams of rivers and adds to the beauty of our poems.
But let us not dwell on Kashmir and forget about the right to dissent. FYI, Jayaprakash Narayan’s call for a complete revolution led to the Emergency imposition and the consensus against a dictatorship. So historically speaking, we are a nation that has dissented for as long as history books serve our knowledge. An activist is often painted and tainted a someone who has no respect for the established system of democracy. But the truth is, it is the only time one exercises his right to an opinion, to make a stand in the 5-year gap between elections. Those who walk the streets engaging in slogans, do it because they do not have the privilege of being heard. Protests are essential to a functioning democracy; allowing a voice to those with no platform to speak. Without the voice of dissent, a democracy becomes a master of several Yes Men, goading and manipulating and corrupting the belief system for several more and the circle goes.
Democracy without dissent is not possible, Men are born free with the right to free will and are allowed by the constitution to free speech. Irrespective of how despicable the thought mighty look in your eyes, a 70-year-old democracy with 1.2 billion souls speaking in 28 different languages living in varied seasons in mountains, islands, plains and plateaus, should be able to tolerate it and some would believe, even encourage such publications. For it is only totalitarian fascists, invaders and dictators that suppress free speech and term it seditious. You may not agree with my opinion, but you cannot, the government cannot deny me the right to voice it.
“Those who profess to favour freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ___Frederick Douglass