Why were these students arrested? For demonstrating without permission, says the police. If that were solely the reason, then almost all politicians should be behind bars, because most of the demonstrations by them are without permission. None of the demonstrations against the Delhi rape ever took any permission. Then why single out these students for arrest?
Were they arrested because they were protesting against the execution of Afzal Guru? If this was so, then dozens of persons appearing on TV shows criticizing the execution must also be arrested. The President of Indian chapter of Amnesty International must also be arrested because he too criticized the execution. Or were they arrested because they were Kashmiris and they dared protest??
Even the police acknowledge that there were no anti India slogans at the demonstration. There was no violence. They simply offered Namaz at Parade Ground and walked till Clock Tower, without causing any public nuisance, holding placards supporting their point of view. Are we such a repressive society that we cannot tolerate a contrary point of view?
In this era of TV inspired “instant jingoistic” nationalism, any support for Afzal Guru immediately labeled as Anti Nationalism and such people deserve either to be deported to Pakistan or hung on the nearest pole. It is amusing to find people who say such things looking the other side, when reminded that the SGPC honored Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and built a memorial for him in the Golden Temple last year. Was that not Anti Nationalism?? General Vaidya’s killers and Indira Gandhi Killers were honored a few months ago in India, yet there was not even a murmur of protest. Then why this selective “nationalism” for Kashmiris?
Why Afzal Guru was executed and whether there was any merit in it, is discussion for another day. But treating Kashmiris as second class citizens in their own country, denying them freedom available to other citizens, is the surest way of making them feel alienated.
Free Speech they say is most important when you disagree and in a state of crises. The more you disagree, the more critical the situation is, the more important it is to let the other person speak. Suppressing speech, especially when you strongly disagree with it, is never a good idea. Does criticizing India make you an anti- National? We all criticize India on some issue or the other, democracy thrives on criticism. Equating criticism of a Supreme Court judgment with anti-nationalism is incorrect.
Kashmiris today are agitated. No one can deny this fact. If they were not, the entire Valley would not have been under curfew for the last four days. Can anyone claim that he or she never said anything wrong in the heat of the moment? Similarly, we must let them vent their feelings. A few words there and there must be patiently ignored, waiting for the anger to calm down.
A healing touch needs to be applied on them and letting them release their emotions in a peaceful manner is the most important way of doing it as long as there is no disrespect for the Nation. The more we try and stifle harmless release of passion, the more we fuel alienation and give the militants in Kashmir a point to beat India with.
Looking from the point of view of those students who were arrested is also important. They are not in Kashmir, they are studying in the heartland of India. Their number is miniscule and their position is quite vulnerable. Knowing fully well that they can be arrested and their entire education and career could be then be at stake, they still came out to express their feelings. By arresting them, beating them and portraying them as Anti National we are not achieving anything, we are only further increasing their feeling of alienation and injustice.
Being treated as a second class citizen in your own country is never a good thing as it makes you yearn for a place to call your own.
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