This is probably the 100th time in this week that we’re hearing about the breach of freedom of expression and freedom of speech in our democratic country, and no, we cannot stay silent about it. The country’s democracy is moving speedily towards a dead end and the government is not the only one responsible for it. The people that still decided to stay silent and support the government, the apolitical people that hid under their mask of privilege, and the Supreme Court that turned its face away from the dark wall are equally responsible. The authoritarian reign of the Modi government hinted at snatched freedom of speech from the very start of its second terms when it opted for cutting networks and imposing section 144 every time there could be distress.
Along with food, home and shelter, internet and information were added to the list of basic amenities. But our government has left no stone unturned to take that amenity away to suppress people’s voice. Non-bailable charges as serious as that of terrorism have been imposed on a number of protestors like it is some common accusation by the authorities and the bias is clear as day. The most recent event that invoked charges under the Prevention of Unlawful Activities act was the violence that broke out on January 26th, The Republic day, where a violent clash between the protestors and police personnel left a number of people injured. The UAPA charges are being brought in consideration of the red for the incident, claiming that there had been prior planning about the events that unfolded. However, these charges, especially against a particular group of people as can be seen by the ongoing reports, are significantly invalid because of their unclear nature. There have been a lot of convictions and theories that investigators came across during their speculation about the event and putting in charges amongst this mess is nothing but an attempt to silence the voice of those who are trying to be heard. And before we move further, give yourself a reminder of how many protestors have been convicted with UAPA charges in the past few years. We’re watching, we’re understanding and we’re here for a change, sooner or later.
Journalists like Manish Punia and labour rights activists like Nodeep Kaur are a few of those names who were picked up by the police from random places, brutalised and beaten like animals in the prison cells, for merely being a part of the protests and covering what was actually happening. The media refused to completely pay heed to these people and has been ignorant of all this for the longest time. And had it not been for social media, where people actually saw videos of Manish Punia being picked up but also brutally beaten up, he would’ve been in a prison cell, begging for his life for merely doing his job. And about Nodeep Kaur? Well, even after news of her being sexually assaulted came out, there has been no significant action by the authorities. So, what are we doing now? Supressing voices to the extent that everybody forgets how to speak anymore?
And make no mistake, we’re not here to criticise the government or the media because they’re doing what we now expect them to do- nothing. We are here to talk about the Supreme Court, the justice body of the country whose purpose is to ensure the government doesn’t take unnecessary advantage of its authority. People of a country, if lose hope in the government, turn to the Supreme court because it is supposed to be an unbiased body that will ensure justice at the end of the day, the thing that every hurting individual seeks. But what if that unbiased body turns biased? What if the keeper of justice turns a blind eye towards unjust? Who do we go to then?
Honestly, we don’t have an answer. But we do have some questions for the Supreme court and its inactions. Why is the Supreme Court not questioning the police brutality undertaken by Delhi Police every single day, evident by videos circulating all over the social media? Why is the Supreme court not holding national media houses accountable for misrepresenting statements and making false claims, which are at the end of the day, provocative in every sense? Why is the Supreme court silent on the government of India’s violation of basic human rights of the people, including cutting the supply of water, electricity and washroom facilities? Why is the Supreme court not asking the Ministry of External Affairs about their reply to ‘tweets’ of international celebrities and a number of RTIs raised in every respect to it? Why is the Supreme court not questioning the BJP MLAs for burning pictures of Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, Mia Khalifa, Amanda Cerny and Meena Harris, in the middle of the road and spreading hate speech? Why is the supreme court not holding the government accountable for their inaction in about the 200 deaths this protest has claimed?
And most importantly, why is the Supreme court silent?
A democratic country functions only if its three pillars- legislature, executive and judiciary to be independent, to have clearly defined and drawn separate powers. However, what we see today is not only the abuse of that power but also their influence on each other and their collective corrupt touch points. The need for strict separation from judiciary, which forms the basis for any successful democracy in the world, is nothing but blurry lines in the country. So as log an it continues to happen, we’ll see our democracy failing and the country’s vision fading out. So you can rather choose to stay silent and side with the oppressor, or you can choose to speak up to save your country giving up in the hands of this fascist government. Again, you have the power to choose, choose better.