Free speech is never absolute. It always comes with a license.
Be it some radicalised students from JNU and AMU or the freeloading “Daadis” of Shaheen Bagh and Chand Bagh, who have been binging on honest taxpayer money and enjoying the largesse of the Indian State, but have never bothered to explain their seditious behaviour of chanting “Kashmir se Azaadi”, “Jinnah waali Azaadi”, “Savarkar ki kabr khudegi AMU ki dharti par”, “BJP ki kabr khudegi AMU ki dharti par”, “Intifada Inquilaab” , “Allah hu Akbar” and “La illah Illalah”, the tyranny by the radicalised minority is the new-est threat faced by peace-loving democracies globally, India included. These chants and slogans have nothing to do even remotely, with either the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) or the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
These are largely anti-India and anti-Hindu slogans by islamo fascist, hinduphobic,left leaning students and rent-a-cause, biryani gorging activists, who had the audacity to demand sacking of the JNU VC, after running riot, damaging public property, making failed attempts at preventing freshers from registering for the new semester, faking injuries, murderously threatening teachers on the campus and then with shameless impunity, asking that FIRs by Delhi police against these leftist vandals, aka “students”, be withdrawn! The “Daadis” at Shaheen Bagh, was no better. For instance, what is peaceful about saying “Hindu-on se Azaadi”? It is a hate-filled, communal rant with a vested agenda to abet violence.
Media’s job is to report, not to build a favourable narrative for an ideology they love ( read as leftists), or to demonize an ideology they hate,(read as right-wing). The violent “anti CAA” protests in Shaheen Bagh, Chand Bagh, Jaffrabad Karawal Nagar and Maujpur, are not the first instance where large sections of Indian media and academia have abdicated their responsibilities. Rioters and arsonists at these areas in northeast Delhi, were part of a bloodthirsty mob, emboldened by tacit support from large sections of the media and out of work “Bollywoodiyas”, who encouraged these murderous vandals, by making them out to be some kind of superheroes. Gutting shops, burning cars and throwing petrol bombs at police officers, can not be termed a peaceful protest, by any stretch of the imagination.
As if the shameful endorsement of inflammatory hate speeches made by the “anti CAA” vandals was not enough, it has now come to light that there are many disgraced journalists, including a certain Rana Ayyub, who was shamelessly caught peddling a two-year-old video and inflaming passions with her communally divisive and outrageously hinduphobic messages on social media, including on platforms like Twitter. What is to be noted here is that, those from the left, who constantly engage in virtue signaling about the virtues of tolerance and free speech,do not have the patience or temperament to digest any criticism, whatsoever. The only defense this bunch of leftist turncoats, rendered irrelevant by the democratic apparatus, can come up with is, accusing their critics of being trolls,saffronised fringe and bhagwa donning bhakts. Well,the bhagwa is a badge of honour to be draped with pride, so clearly the Marxist radicals need to find a better way to attack their right-wing opponents.
Secessionists at Shaheen Bagh, where the likes of Sharjeel Imam, an ex IIT-ian, were seen openly exhorting the protesters by raising seditious slogans like, “Assam ko kaatna hamari zimmedaari hai”,showcases how radicalisation has little to do with education. It is shameful that in the heart of India’s capital city, treason and hate speech by radicalised Muslims is being passed off as dissent and free speech. What is even more shameful and unfortunate is the ghettoised mentality of international publications like the “Economist”, which not only chooses to hail these protesting arsonists and goons but, wrongfully terms the Modi government, intolerant, in a classic case of missing the woods for the trees. Again, western media publications like the “Washington Post”, are brazenly peddling fake news via their discredited writers like Rana Ayyub, who was not hired in India by any respectable media house for the last many years and, was even castigated by India’s apex court, for misusing her journalistic freedom, for spewing lies. Yet, “Washington Post” hired Ayyub, in a glaring display of how credible credentials is something the “Washington Post”, has scant regard for. This whole hysteria and hype about Muslims being suppressed and oppressed under the Modi regime is only a whole lot of hogwash and little else. For instance, while 3.14 crore minority students secured government scholarships tantamounting to Rs. 8715 crore between 2014 and 2019 under Modi, the number stood at only 2.94 crores tantamounting to a much lower Rs. 5360 crore, under Manmohan Singh, between 2009-2014. This translates to a rise of 7 percent in Muslim beneficiaries under the Modi government. Clearly, hard numbers suggest, Modi, has done more for the betterment of Muslims than his predecessors under successive Congress regimes and hence, this biased narrative that the Modi led BJP government is anti-Muslims, is simply a figment of wicked minds.
Speaking of Bollywood, Soni Razdan, a forgettable actress who made some equally forgettable movies, recently tweeted, “This is a travesty of justice. Who is going to bring back a man from the dead if he is innocent? This is why the death penalty is not to be used lightly, and this is why there also needs to be a solid inquiry into why Afzal Guru was made the scapegoat.” Indeed, if there is any entity, that blinded by its visceral hatred for Modi, has done more harm to India’s secular fabric, than all the radicalised hinduphobic media houses put together, it is Bollywood. Razdan’s step-son, Rahul Bhatt was accused of befriending and conspiring with David Headley, convicted in the deadly Mumbai 26/11 terror attack. Shameful, that despite her family member being supposedly involved in the most ghastly terror attack on Indian soil, Razdan felt the need to put out a hate-filled tweet, trying to make a hero out of Afzal Guru, who was hanged in 2013,after 12 years of trial, after he was found guilty by the highest court in India, of being the key conspirator in the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament.
What drives these Bollywood folks to turn into terror apologists, under the fake guise of upholding free speech? Razdan and bigots like her, who understand zilch about the CAA, are indulging in a dangerous game of polarising the Muslim community in India, by abetting a false narrative that seeks to showcase Hindus as perpetrators and Muslims in India, as the hapless lot.
Even since the Modi government stormed to power in May 2014, personally humiliating attacks against Narendra Modi have reached venomous proportions. Modi is trolled, abused and lampooned in the vilest manner by a section of the left-leaning cabal, which is otherwise defunct, has been rejected by the masses and has been electorally vanquished by the Modi juggernaut, frequently and repeatedly. Shaheen Bagh and ChandcBagh, are certainly not about the CAA–it is about wanting to delegitimise the democratically elected, legitimate government of Narendra Modi, through means most foul. If anything, the Shaheen Bagh sham, was a desperate attempt by certain radicalised Islamist groups, to balkanise India under the guise of giving Muslims a more inclusive space.
There are about 51 islamic nations globally, with at least 45, where Islam is the official state religion. Minorities in these Islamic countries are treated like third-class citizens, if not worse. The rabid bunch of Bollywood starlets, fading academicians, and professional protesters on hire,who are willing to sell their souls for merely Rs 500 and a plate of biryani, have never ever voiced their concerns for minorities in these Muslim majority nations. Now that the Modi government, via the CAA, seeks to accord citizenship status to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, in a praiseworthy humanitarian gesture, why should that worry Indian Muslims? The CAA does not in any manner or form, hurt, harm or compromise, the rights of existing Indian Muslim citizens. Then what is the need for rabble-rousers like George Soros,to peddle an ideologically perverse agenda against the Modi government? Why should Hindus in India which is 80% Hindu dominated, be made to feel apologetic all the time? What is intolerant about standing in solidarity with persecuted Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs, who are in minority and treated with savage inhumanity in Pakistan?
The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA), simply seeks to amend the definition of an illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. They will now be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years, versus the earlier, twelve years. The amendment also relaxed the residency requirement for naturalization of these migrants from eleven years to five.
The CAA legislation applies to those who were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion”. It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration. The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31st, 2014 which means the applicant should have entered India on or before that date.
CAA won’t apply to areas under the sixth schedule of the Constitution – which deals with autonomous tribal-dominated regions in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. The bill will also not apply to states that have the inner-line permit regime (Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram). While a large chunk of these aforesaid northeastern states has been exempted from the legislation, CAA covers a large part of Assam. However, fears stemming from the wrong assumption that illegal Bengali Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, if regularised under CAA, will threaten the cultural and linguistic identities of the state are baseless, as the number of Hindu migrants, in this case, is minuscule.
The National Register of Citizens or (NRC), which we saw in Assam, is targetted at illegal immigrants. NRC is aimed at deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of their religion.NRC will include those who can prove that either they or their ancestors lived in India on or before March 24th, 197NRC therefore, deals with illegal immigrants whereas CAA deals with persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring countries and has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Leftist malcontents trying to surreptitiously link the two is a deliberate attempt by rogue elements to disturb India’s religious harmony and secular. That the Supreme Court declined to stay the CAA and only asked the Centre to file its reply against certain petitions, vindicates the Modi government’s stance in more ways than one. Also, those who allege that the CAA is against the basic premise of the right to equality under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, need to know that any Article is subject to “reasonable restrictions”, in the larger interests of “public order, morality, and health”.Let no one forget that India’s minorities, Muslims included, enjoy special privileges under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, so they have no legal or moral locus standi to quote Article 14 only selectively when it suits their vested needs.
The Janus faced hypocrisy of pseudo-secular, left-liberal,anti-Modi propagandists and “professional pessimists”, who are desperately trying to clutch at any fig leaf or straw in the wind, that comes their way by design or accident, know it is end game for them,in the war of narratives, because truth has a way of finding its own way, unhinged and unfettered. Most recently, Deepika Padukone found out the hard way that the unassuming, average Indian is far smarter than a whole lot of fading bollywood starlets, lyricists, and self-serving stars,put together.She chose to show solidarity with a hate-spewing mob of vandals when she had the choice to stand with Nirbhaya’s mother on that eventful day.She chose mobocracy over democracy and the audience too made a choice—it chose Tanhaji over Chappak!!
It is worth mentioning here that while Hindus are in majority in India,the Modi government is certainly not majoritarian. It truly believes in “Sabka Saath,Sabka Vikas,Sabka Vishwaas”.However, “Sabka Saath”, also means taking pride in chanting “Jai Shree Ram”, as much as it is about worshipping “Gau Mata”, or celebrating the oneness of yoga and reclaiming our abandoned,old temples that were ravaged by marauding Mughals, centuries back. And what makes the Modi government stand out is the fact that it is not apologetic about the richness of Hinduism,its sages, saints, rishis, gurus, Vedas, Shankaracharya, mutts,et al. This is precisely what the pseudo-secular lobby is not able to digest. So while the “radicalised minoritarian lobby” does not think twice before blaring “Azaan” from loudspeakers,five times a day, flouting umpteen court rulings, Hindus are demonised for celebrating Diwali with firecrackers or enjoying Holi, the festival of colors, by this leftist lobby, that has accused these festivals of being environment unfriendly. Ironically, this glib “pseudo-secular lobby”, looks the other way, when entire forests are stripped naked of trees during Christmas, or when countless goats are butchered mercilessly during Eid.
Coming back to the CAA, conferring UK born Pakistani singer Adnan Sami, the Indian citizenship, after Pakistan refused to renew his passport in 2015 and Sami sought an Indian citizenship,is a vindication of the fact that any person who is willing to follow the due process of law and all procedural formalities, will be given an Indian citizenship, subject to certain conditions as laid down by the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955.6That Sami,a reputed singer, who was in the eye of a needless storm created by a rudderless opposition, after being awarded the Padma Shri, is again a reinforcement of the fact that the Modi government goes by merits of the case and the rule book. Religion, language, and country of origin are secondary, as long as legality & constitutionality of a specific case, are in the right place.
Interestingly, those who are sloganeering against the CAA in India are the same bunch that has no qualms in supporting the Lautenberg Amendment of the USA, enacted in 1990, which sought to resettle and rehabilitate persecuted Jews from the former Soviet Union. The Lautenberg Amendment was expanded over the years to include persecuted religious minorities in other countries, such as Jews, Christians, and Baha’is from Iran.
If anything, it is the tyranny of minority-ism that India needs to be cautious of and not the imaginary majoritarianism that is often wrongfully blamed for anything that goes wrong. Stereotyping all Muslims in India is wrong and unacceptable. There are many tall leaders within the Muslim community whose heart and head are in the right place. However, both the local and international media should rid themselves of their anti-Modi bias, to fully appreciate the pathbreaking work being done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Modi government for all communities including Muslims, cutting across ideological barriers, if any.
Ms Sanju Verma is an Economist, Chief Spokesperson for BJP Mumbai and Author of the Bestseller–“Truth & Dare-The Modi Dynamic”.