A young girl of 18 shouts at her mother, ‘I hate you’, and leaves for college. During the lunch time, the police visit the girl’s college and arrest her on charges of sedition. The fact that the mother was a government employee was good enough for the mother to file a case of sedition against her daughter. Because IPC 124 A reads:
Whoever by words spoken brings hatred towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life.
A jilted lover who shouts, ‘I hate you’ at a woman is now booked under sedition laws of India just because that woman is a government employee. It’s not hard to imagine such a situation now that Arundhati Roy is being slapped with various cases across India just because she has been found to harbor ‘hatred’ for this country. We are on the verge of creating another MF Husain episode, hounding the person we do not like so much so that they would have to eventually flee the country. Soon we will get rid of all artists and authors from this country who do not conform to the opinions of the majority.
Words of feelings in Indian Penal Code
Words like hatred, anger, love, happy, etc, cannot be and should not be legalized. They are subject to interpretation most of the time. The feelings come and go; they reach a peak and subside. In anger, one could utter the words of disaffection, dissatisfaction and say things like, ‘I hate you’, but then change one’s feelings the very next moment. Feelings are not static, cannot be measured, and should never be legalized. The fact that such words, like ‘hatred’, appear in our Indian Penal Code with punishments of imprisonment for life is quite ridiculous. The fact that such laws are actually being used now in many cities of India against Arundhati Roy is downright deplorable.
Artists and Authors in Politics
Artists and Authors in Politics
Many people in India do not understand why MF Husain has to paint Hindu gods in nude instead of sticking to landscapes, or why Arundhati Roy has to speak about Kashmir instead of sticking to writing fiction. To start with, there is no need to understand why they do what they do. We as people of India don’t have to understand what every artist or author does. That’s the whole idea of freedom of expression - that we should allow people to express what they want to express without being attacked with FIRs, police cases, harassments, vandalism, etc. A modern nation that does not protect its citizen’s basic rights against onslaught of the majority opinion should hang its head in shame, not be proud that they have managed to kick out another artist or author from its land.
In the history of mankind, many artists and authors have commented on politics of their time, some of actively participating in them. Voltaire, a playwright, wrote at lengths on politics of France leading to The French Revolution; Benjamin Franklin, a scientist, was one of the signatories of The Declaration of Independence in USA playing an active role in politics; Pablo Picasso, an artist, depicted the Spanish War in his famous painting ‘Guernica’; Salvador Dali, another artist, depicted many of his objects of veneration in nude.
It was the attitudes of those lands that they could tolerate a contrarian expression or opinion, however disagreeable those opinions were, that has led to creation of the concept called modern nation, which treats it people as citizens with rights, not as subjects of a king.
What is India doing now? Hounding its authors and artists slapping them with innumerable number of cases in each city of India so that they are forced to flee the nation! With the episode of Arundhati Roye, criticism of one’s nation has become a crime punishable by imprisonment for life. Harboring feelings of hatred, anger, dissatisfaction towards one’s country, and expressing them through a sign, such as a frown on the face, is now sedition. Almost anyone can be prosecuted by anyone. What a wrong precedent!
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