ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Twisted Freedom

You are free to say anything only if you agree with those in power.

The freedom to criticise is not a special favour granted to Indian citizens by the government of the day. It is guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. Yet, recent actions and utterances of the current dispensation in power in New Delhi would lead one to conclude that such a freedom extends only to those who support the government and its political ideology, while those who do not can say what they want, but at their own peril. If you suggest that this is a serious incursion on the right to free expression, you are told there is no evidence of this; that a handful of murders of writers or a well-known journalist, or sedition and defamation cases against individuals who speak out, should not be construed as an attack on freedom of expression.

We are told that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is so committed to freedom of expression that he does not block anyone who follows him on social media even if they abuse someone like the journalist Gauri Lankesh in the foulest and most offensive language within hours of her murder on 5 September in Bengaluru. And even the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Karnataka youth wing sending a legal notice for criminal and civil defamation to historian and writer Ramachandra Guha for his statements on 6 September about the Lankesh killing apparently does not constitute intolerance of free expression. Guha said in an interview to that it was likely that Lankesh’s murderers “came from the same Sangh Parivar from which the murderers of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi came.” This, the legal notice claims, will “tarnish the image and reputation” of the BJP and is “accusative and defamatory in nature.”

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Updated On : 18th Sep, 2017
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