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Porn ban, hate speech: When political hues decide personal liberties

The only ones with their right to expression and personal liberty intact are some leaders of the Hindu right-wing. They can emphatically present their arguments, however insensitive and vitriolic, and get away with it, writes Abhishek Saha

analysis Updated: Aug 09, 2015 12:09 IST
Abhishek Saha
Our-children-do-not-get-right-samskars-from-the-movies-of-the-Khans-They-promote-love-jihad-Sadhvi-Prachi-said-Photo-Sadhvi-Prachi-s-Facebook-Page
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Personal liberties in India appear to be suffering from a bias. It might be problematic for you to watch pornography even inside the four walls of your home. But a Hindu right-wing leader such as Sadhvi Prachi can issue any statement against minorities whenever she wants.



Many people in Maharashtra and Haryana who want to eat beef, can’t. You can’t read

books like Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History

. But politicians like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) patron Ashok Singhal can openly say India will be a “Hindu Rashtra” by 2020.



The only ones with their right to expression and personal liberty intact are some leaders of the Hindu right-wing. They can emphatically present their arguments, however insensitive and vitriolic, and get away with it.



But on the other hand, if you are a writer critical of religion like Salman Rushdie or an artist painting nudes like MF Husain or a

bold documentary filmmaker like Leslee Udwin

, be prepared for big trouble. You might find your creative works banned in this country.



VHP leader Prachi, a consistently luminous personality in the world of hate speeches, said last week that those who question Yakub Memon’s hanging for his role in the 1993 Mumbai bombings are nothing but terrorists.



And, she said, terrorist

Mohammad Naveed, arrested in Udhampur after a deadly attack on the BSF

, should be handed over to Hindu organisations to be “taught a lesson”.



It’s quite evident what that “lesson” will be, and what brutality that comment implies. It also showcases Prachi’s sense of impunity.



“It is a big misfortune that in the Indian Parliament, we have one-two terrorists sitting there. I do not think there can be a bigger misfortune for India than this as they are disobeying the judgment of a court, because the court has proved that he (Yakub Memon) is a terrorist,” she

said

.



Prachi, who is always clad in a saffron sari, was perhaps referring to MPs like Shatrughan Sinha of the BJP, Mani Shankar Aiyer of the Congress, eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani, and communist leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja – they were among the 300-odd lawmakers, jurists, activists, academics and cultural figures

who wrote to the President days before Memon’s execution

and requested him to show mercy.



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/7/1607Yakub.jpg

A file photo of Yakub Memon, who was hanged in Nagpur on July 30.



The courts might have delivered their verdict, but that, in no way, can be a deterrent from debating such issues. Memon has been hanged, but commentators and experts are still divided on whether that was the right thing to do in view of the debates on the extent of Memon’s guilt and the questions about the death penalty itself.



But then, you do know who Prachi is, don’t you? She is the person who asked

Hindu women to have four children

– one for the army, one to work for society, one to be handed over to a Hindu religious leader and another to join the VHP.



Another gem from her was when she asked people to

boycott films

by actors Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, because they promote “love jihad” and corrupt the minds of India’s young.



Prachi was also arrested for spreading communal strife during the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 and later released on bail. She contested polls to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 2012 on a BJP ticket from Purkazi.



She is not the only leader who thrives on bigoted speeches against minorities. Several leaders of the Sangh Parivar, including union minister Giriraj Singh and controversial BJP lawmaker Yogi Adityanath, have made their share of communally-charged speeches.



In March, RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said Indian minorities are

“culturally, nationally and DNA-wise Hindus”

. In campaigns like ‘ghar wapsi’ and love jihad, Hindu activists judiciously vented their prejudices against Muslims and harmed the secular fabric.



Such has been the menace of irresponsible anti-minority comments by leaders that Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned against such speeches in June and called them “unfortunate”.



But nothing seems to stop them. Every few weeks, a new hate-filled anti-minority comment pops up.



Will there ever be a way to reprimand them? Can there be a course to end this shameful malaise?



(The views expressed by the writer are personal. He tweets as

@saha_abhi1990

)