‘Mere words not sedition’: Manu Singhvi slams government over Amulya case
Amulya Leona, the Karnataka student who shouted “Pakistan Zindabad” at a political programme on Thursday, cannot be supported but charging her with sedition shows the government has “forgotten” the meaning of Indian democracy, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in Kolkata on Saturday afternoon.
The Karnataka police brought the charges on Friday after Leona shouted the slogan at an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act rally also attended by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) founder and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi.
“Mere words do not constitute sedition. I do not agree with what Amulya said. I condemn her totally. This government has forgotten the meaning of Indian democracy, and is making us just like our neighbours who are constitutional wrecks and ruins. India was an exception since 1947,” said Singhvi at a media conference at the state Congress headquarters. He released a booklet on citizenship screening schemes his party is opposing.
“Even a man who makes cartoons is charged with sedition. In 1962, the Supreme Court said sedition laws were enforced to serve the British,” Singhvi, a prominent lawyer, added.
“Modi’s biggest achievement is that in five years he has put a question mark on Indian democracy. You meet anyone from any country, whether the USA or from Europe, and they will start asking questions, but not about your GDP growth, not about your excellent infrastructure. They will ask you questions about your protests, what you eat, what you wear and what you talk, about NRC (National Register of Citizens) and CAA (Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” said Singhvi.
“What Mr Modi has achieved, is to give Pakistan, which is a failed state, a talking point. And he blames us,” he said.
“Gandhi said intolerance itself is a form of violence and obstacle to the growth of a truly democratic nation. Our leaders are paying hollow homage to the father of the nation. All they are doing is spread hate and intolerance in society. What is happening is totally contrary to the ethos of India, the very definition of India,” said the Congress leader.
“Hate crimes have increased by 28 per cent from 2014 to 2017. In Uttar Pradesh, 59 to 60 per cent of all cow-related incidents in the country take place,” he alleged.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, business worth 2.4 billion US dollars has been lost since (abrogation of) Article 370 and there has been a 86 per cent decline in tourism. Five lakh people have lost employment,” Singhvi claimed.
Asked where the West Bengal Congress will be allowed to field Priyanka Gandhi for Rajya Sabha, he said, “I cannot talk on this. This is to be decided by the party leadership. All I can say is that many in the party want to see Priyanka Gandhi there (in Parliament).”
Singhvi alleged that the Centre wants to set up a data protection authority for citizens but it will be of little use. “There is no data protection act in the country. The government has proposed to constitute a data protection authority. It will define personal data and public data of individuals. You can imagine what that will mean. Adhaar has been done and we will have DPA. The DPA the government is proposing, will be a toothless tiger. It will not be a tiger in fact but a toothless mouse,” said Singhvi.