Public sentiment is easily offended it would seem, more so when there is even a hint of criticism of religious leaders. The complaint now filed against music director Vishal Dadlani for having questioned the remarks of Jain monk and religious leader Tarun Sagar is evidence of this. The monk had stated that religion cannot be divorced from politics, adding for good measure that a wife can be disciplined by her husband if she does not carry out her duties. To be precise, he said: “The control of dharma over politics is essential. Dharma is the husband and politics is the wife. It is the duty of every husband to protect his wife and it is the duty of every wife to accept the orders (discipline) of her husband.”
In principle, Dadlani is not wrong in saying that he had a problem with religion and governance going hand in hand. The Constitution is on his side on this one. What he said may have offended the sentiments of some in the Jain community and he has apologised for this. But to go so far as to seek legal action against him is to blow things out of proportion.
The definition of religious sentiments is so vast and loosely defined that it is difficult to fathom what specific issues constitute these. If Dadlani’s remarks had incited hatred or violence, then perhaps filing a complaint would be justified.
This is of a piece with filing sedition charges against those who hold a contrarian point of view. The fabric of Indian society is surely not so fragile that a remark from Dadlani could cause such grievous offence.
The tweeter who filed the complaint has made his feelings clear on social media. This should be enough, along with Dadlani’s apology that he meant no offence. The fact that the monk made these remarks in the Haryana assembly, which is duty bound to uphold the principles of the Constitution can very well be questioned without this sort of hysteria on offending religious sentiments.
Frivolous charges on the basis of sentiment of various sorts should not be entertained in the first place. To make matters worse, the Delhi chief minister has jumped into the fray politicising this issue and berating Dadlani who has been a vocal supporter of AAP. If this is not mixing politics with religion, then we would like to know what is.
(The views expressed are personal. The author tweets @lalitapanicker.)