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Protest and criticism were supposed to be the core of democracy and not an anti-national propaganda

In the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “It is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain their India by fighting against the education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.”  No political party, no ideology or no country can be greater than its people and as long as we believe otherwise, as mentioned time and again by our forefathers, we’ll never truly obtain our India. This country’s enriching history stands on people coming together and fighting against an establishment, protesting and raising their voice so loud that the oppressors were forced to listen. You, from the blanket of your privilege, might not see the ruling party as oppressors but those sitting on the streets, being deprived of their basic human rights know what it feels like to be oppressed. And here we are, criticising protests, calling protestors anti-nationals and naming the entire struggle mere propaganda.

Think about it, propaganda against whom? The party we ourselves chose to put in power or the country that we’re ready to die for? Those people there on the roads protesting are common people like you and me, seeking to be heard, not only for their sake but for the sake of the country too. Because no democracy flourishes without disagreements and when those disagreements are ignored and decisions are shoved down people’s throats, the core of democracy takes the form of protests. A little retrospect at our country’s history and culture would prove the point extraordinarily.

So, as you must figure out by now, the current representation of protests as anti-national propaganda is nothing but a blot on our democracy. And the protestors, their voice and their dissent are what’s keeping this country’s democracy alive. The government can see it and the government is scared. It is scared that the people will start seeing beyond the religious divide it has created and hold it accountable for its action. And for that, they’ll go to any extent to suppress these voices. Be it charging protestors under the act specifically made to curb terrorism, resorting to police brutality or taking away the freedom of speech and expression by banning your mediums and arresting journalists. Judging by recent events, all of the aforementioned phenomena are being witnessed, every day.

The recent arrest of the 21-year-old environmental activist, Disha Ravi and later unfolding of the events in one such matter. She is charged under Sedition, a law against bringing hatred and contempt for the country or disaffection against the government, when all she did was edit and share a toolkit on how to support the farmers’ protest and spread awareness about the agenda. It is ironic to witness how in a democratic country if you side with the government and follow a toolkit like the tweets made by Bollywood make you a nationalist, while the toolkit followed if you’re on the other side of the government makes you an anti-national and calls in charges of contempt. How long are we going to coincide the country with the supreme leader? And when did proper planning and organisation of a protest become a crime?

Nothing can be executed without proper planning, let alone a protest. So, what does it imply, if you plan protests, the government will put you in jail? And if there’s no planning, there can be no protests. So, they are now directly taking away your rights to protest, inspite of their innumerable indirect ways like violating basic human rights and inciting violence on non-violent protestors. Oh, and let’s not forget the charges she has been booked under. How does editing a document spreading awareness about the protest and its agenda make one an ally to terrorism? This is wrong on so many levels. Sure, they’ll make you believe this is all a propaganda, she was in contact with terrorist organisations, she was an ally to this entire conspiracy and even be compared to young terrorists, but for how long? How long will it take for us to get to our senses and see beyond propaganda and conspiracies?

What the government is doing is merely an act to scare people, suppress their voices and oppress them with the authority they have. This fascist government knows the youth is the future and as long as we know our rights and we’re fearless, the government will be held accountable and as we can witness, they’ll be scared. Some people from the ruling party even went to the extent to explain how young people, those in their 20s, should stay apolitical. Well, had Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Rani Laxmi Bai had been apolitical in their 20s, the history of the country would’ve been much different, much worse. We supposedly encourage and support global climate activists but when it comes to our own country, we suddenly turn to question them, their intentions and their knowledge.

The father of our constitution, BR Ambedkar said, “Educate. Agitate. Organise.” This apparently so-called democratic government has attacked all three of these fundamentals and the evidence couldn’t be clearer. So, you can turn blind and continue your ignorance in the name of nationalism or wake up and be a true patriot to work on the areas that need mending, desperately. Everything is not propaganda; a conspiracy and we need to stop fighting over what this government hands us. The government has attacked people’s right to protests, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and everything that democracy stands on. The country and the state that controls all its citizens by laws, police, spying and force, is by definition, under dictatorship rule. Figure out for yourself if this country is still a democracy.

All this put us to thinking that are we good enough? Good enough for this nation, for this society, and for this struggle? Well, I am no one to comment on that. The truth is yours and the lie is yours as well.

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