Guarding free speech from 'lovers' of hate

By Prabhakar Timble
04 December 2012 06:35 IST

If two innocuous girls from inconsequential backgrounds can freeze into silence, shudder with fear and invite an illegal arrest and confinement from the legal Hand via the threat from the fanatic gang of the Shiv Sainiks, it shows the extra-legal power and extra-constitutional freedom of the idolised Emperor of Hindu hearts Bal Keshav Thackeray and his Shiv Sena. Such formations could be better understood as mobs who threaten citizens as well as law enforcers. Such brand of politics puts democratic and civilised society into the abyss of shame. Such fanatical mobs of various shades have gone on rampage in the past damaging offices of media and manufacturing fear psychosis amongst writers and artistes. They hold the cudgels for their religion, caste and their heroes from Shivaji to Thackeray; Ram to Allah; Gandhi to Godse and Manu to Ambedkar.

What a false pride we take that on the day of the funeral festival of the mortal ‘Pramukh’ the crowds surpassed what the Mahatma could muster! A single shop not open and not a single hawker on the streets of the cosmopolitan Mumbai, which otherwise stops for none, are impossibilities. It cannot happen naturally and out of love and reverence. Love is not cruel to make this happen. Love does not suck the self-esteem of others. It is only fear and terror that can ensure the discipline of the cemetery.

Politics of hate

Men like Balasaheb loved to hate. They have amassed political power, material fortunes and admiration remaining loyal to the principle of hate. Many take it as a creditworthy achievement that Balasaheb was never disloyal to this love unto the last. The Shiv Sena by their first public action following the natural and mature death of their supremo rang the bells to make it loud and clear that the legacy of hate, fear and Marathi terror (pride?) will not die.

When a high profile speaker paid tributes to this maestro of hate at the opening ceremony of the recently concluded International Film Festival of India, I was aghast whether it was a regional Marathi film fest. The international delegates attending the inaugural service might have found meaning and relevance if a tribute was paid to the social entrepreneur, Amulpramukh Dr. Verghese Kurien.

Very soon a demand would be made for a ‘smarak’ of Balasaheb in the neighbourhood of the Maratha warrior Shivaji.  Without this the dead remnants of Shiv Sena would evaporate in Goa. Pluralism and tolerance are our national democratic ideals. Our heroes are those who make public exhibition of intolerance and who foster dictatorship as a national virtue. People who foment hate in the name of Hindu pride, who inject negative regionalism are converted into heroes and worshipped. This is done either out of fear of life and property or greed for gaining power. This is what the innocent followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar are also coached to do. In the honour of Ambedkar, they do disservice to the ideals he stood for. They will be paraded to burn and destroy public property on flimsy grounds. These are short-cuts to exploit the guiltless masses for personal enrichment of the leaders.

The message of hate is a fashionable commodity and hence prone to go out of fashion. The teachings of masters of hate cannot last beyond their lifetime. As opposed to this, men like Gandhi, Ambedkar, Martin Luther King and Nehru stand immortal. As hatred gains ground in the community, the preachers of this philosophy are rendered irrelevant. Gandhi can be criticised, censured and condemned. The Mahatma can be ridiculed. As a result, Gandhi stays with critics, admirers, followers and the vehement opposition. Gandhi lives and will live forever because Gandhi can be beaten, caned without ‘merci’ and no true ‘sainik’ of Gandhi will deny you the right to assassinate his writings and the experiments with truth if you wish to do so. The more you dump this apostle of love and peace, the more his relevance hits you.

Guarding free speech

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act has been misused by the executive and the police like many other provisions in other laws relating to crime and detention in respect of freedom of speech. The contents of Section 66A are vague and rough. Criticism is not criminal speech viewed in the context of the fundamental rights and the reasonable restrictions. Courts have interpreted the provisions in the Indian Penal Code restrictively so as to maintain the honour of democracy and freedom of speech. The ambiguity in Section 66A could be ironed by amendments to the law and also by judicial guidelines.

What is imminent danger to freedom of speech and movement is fanatic political organisations, communal tribes in the business of pseudo-patriotism, organised religious and caste banners worshipping the discriminatory past culture and some spiritual groups using the spirit of hate. Such groups could be better described as mobs under different masks.

These organised gangs are more dangerous than the restraints on freedom of speech like Section 66A. We can have liberal laws but such organisations will decide the ambit of citizen freedom by imposing their restrictions however unreasonable, unfair, undemocratic and unjust they are.

Good laws turn to be bad because of the state using its coercive machinery on flimsy grounds and also tacitly supporting fanaticism through inaction. Courts need to clamp down on such organisations and individuals with the same zeal with which they immobilise wrongful executive and police actions in respect of arrest and detention of citizens.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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in goa there is this unchecked growth of a hate cult/organised crime syndicate, sanatan sanstha. This group run by outsider maharashtrian brahmins and supported by a local currupt politician mr 10 % sudin dhawlikar is growing at an alarming rate. They run in garb of hindu religion but there is not a single drop of religion in it. They have no knowledge of substantive hindu religion but they just come out with taliban like fatwas on procedural aspects of hinduism of do this and dont do that. Only substantive practice they have is naamjap. But again its just procedural and has no substance. They are selling hypnotism in name of sadhana and hate in name of religion while making money under megical remedies. This terrorist organisation which makes dhawlikars black money white has already exploded a bomb at margao yet goa govt has shown impotance to crack down upon it. Soon this virus will eat goa if nothing is done against them.

- jayesh nayak, porvorim | 09 th December 2012 13:52


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