Downsizing of Freedom: Right-Winged Modi Government to blame?
“JNU clashes: sedition and anti-nationalism…”
“Ramjas clashes: art liberals versus ABVP hooligans…”
“RSS vigilantes against cow slaughter: mob lynching…”
And now, the death of the journalist Gauri Lankesh….
The left wing liberals are quick to inculpate Modi government for everything that goes wrong in the country, while the right wing political leaders almost never have anything to say, and when they do, they conveniently shun it as the controversy concocted by the leftists. In this ever spiraling debate between the two wings of the government, the common citizen, who bears the burn of these atrocious happenings around the country, is suffering from “information blackout”.
The prominent Indian Journalist, Gauri Lankesh was shot dead in front of her residence on the evening of 5th September. Lankesh opposed the totalitarian policies of Modi government. In 2008, she alleged that BJP MPs, Prahlad Joshi, and Umesh Dhusi, were involved in criminal dealings based on the ‘inside’ information. However, last year she got convicted in the defamation case and jailed for six months along with a fine. Now, her ‘voice was silenced’ forever.
This is not the sole case where freedom of speech or press seems to be slipping away from the hands of the citizens. Ever since Modi government took power in the office in 2014, the tremors of the downsizing of freedom have been experienced throughout the country. According to the 2017 India Freedom Report, published by The Hoot, there have been 54 reported attacks on the journalists, 3 cases of television news channels being banned, 45 internet shutdowns, 45 sedition cases against individuals and groups from January 2016 to April 2017.
There is no denying the fact that these figures are ever soaring in the RSS backed Modi government. However, this is the not first ever era which witnessed the shrinking of liberalization or downsizing of freedom of speech/press. Is it too soon to forget the draconian censorship standards imposed on the press and imprisoning of opposing political leaders by Indira Gandhi, in the 1970s during the 21- month period? Or, the banning of Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie in 1989 by Rajiv Gandhi? The political turmoil has always been there: be it under the regime of the right winged extremists or the saffron cladding left winged.
While inculpating saffron yogis for the misfortunes of the entire country might not be the rational decision, it is difficult to turn a blind eye from Modi government fascist policies. There is the wave of vigilante justice in the country that might have been flourishing under the name of “Nationalism” that is quite normalized by the current regime. Political leaders hurling provocative and irrational things on the record that justify heinous crimes like mob lynching have formed a flourishing and normative ground for the jingoist nationalism in the country.
Cases like the death of the journalist or mob lynching are certainly not the first, and might just not be the last. The hauntings of fascism, jingoism, and vigilantism trouble the country. It not only invokes the nightmarish blackout of information and thus, humanitarian rights, it seeks to chase away our freedom of expression. It is easier to place blame on right wing government and indulges in the nostalgia of utopic days of the left wing. The rationality would lie in actively seeking to protect your rights while remembering the tainted past of both the wings; to question and criticize, after all, the government is for you, by you and of you.