Goutam Bandyopadhyay :
India’s first prime minister Jawahar lal Nehru wanted the sedition act (sec 124-A IPC) repealed as early
as possible though he could not get rid of the section in his lifetime. The section has been repeatedly
clamped in independent India for all the wrong reasons by the political masters to create social
uncertainty among the people. But when the the Poona police arrested five left leaning intellectuals and
noted activists the government not only received the flak from different quarters but even from the
highest court itself for its inappropriate, mindless use of the law.
The entire episode reflects the hegemonic stand of the Government at the centre, who, as the
perception goes, is out to gag public outcry over its inaction against the violent gaurakshaks and
gruesome activities of organisations like Sanatan Sangstha. During emergency then Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi had to bite the dust because of her larger than life amibition, accentuated by her son Sanjay but
now the situation seems to be worse because the government’s inaction or certain preferred actions are
watering the divisive plants to grow stronger to tear down the fabric of the country. When the
perception in the country against the BJP government is worsening the Prime Minister, comfortably
ensconced in his throne delivering monologues is miles away from holding dialoges on controversial,
debatable issues with all the stakeholders. It is not known why the government was so inept while
handling so delicate and sensitive issue as sedition. It is more strange that the executives too have lost
their sanity or they could have advised the government otherwise. Or are they too scared to touch the
holy grail of power at the thrown and eager to help their masters cross the limits of law and civility?
By arresting five noted activists or reformers- a journalist, two renowned advocates, a former professor,
one poet and critic the government behaves in an erraticaly autocratic way- though itself being elected
democratically- on a sensitive issue which might cost them dearly in future losing the dalit votes from
There is no denying in the historical facts that after Shivaji the Peswas looked down upon the dalits,
humiliated them miserably and tortured them physically. In his book A Tale of Two Revolts by Rajmohna
Gandhi the vivid description is horryfying
Peasants were inhumanly harassed . If taxes were not paid (usually because a famine had left peasants
penniless), ‘boiling oil from the frying pan was poured’ on the peasants or ‘heavy stones were mercilessly
placed on backs.’ Floggings were common. Women committed suicide.
When the the battle between the British and Peswa Bajirao ii ensued, it was the only chance of the
dalits to escape from the social bondage of Peswa rule. Being oppressesd for years the dalits, especially
the Mahar community joined the British troops and valiantly fought the battle to defeat the Peswas.
Every year the dalits celebrate this day but this year it went awry leading to death of a person, when
certain sections found Ch the celebration to be against nationalist sentiments. All the arrested intellectuals
are in support of the dalits whereas the upper echleons of the society or the Brahminical, feudal people
are up in arms against the celebration of the dalits. These noted activists were blamed for inciting
violence. Now the Poona police have suddenly come up with another serious allegation against one of
the revered activisits of plotting to kill the Prime Minister. The police swooped on their houses, detained
them and produced them at court without any visible proof or evidence. What an irony!
It is high time for the government to reflect whether it is willing to run a 100 meter sprint or a marathon. It is high time for Prime Minister Modi to decide whether to finish a tarnished term of inaction or to put a leash on the overzealous zealots.
(Author’s personal opinion)