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JNU Row has opened up the debate on freedom of expression verses nationalism- Comment.


Libert, galit, fraternit - French for "liberty, equality, fraternity" were the words first time coined during 1789 French revolution in France. It gave new dimension to freedom for the philosophers, thinkers and socialites and in pages of history. History had always come up with a new struggle, pain and a new beginning. Be it the French revolution, right now rebels in Syria against Assad government or if the group of students in reputed universities like JNU.Now 'AZADI' word was upturned by Kanhaiya Kumar, the President of students union at JNU.

On February 9th, 2016, a few JNU students had organized a meeting to confer about the supposed "judicial murder" of Afzal Guru and the issue of "Free Kashmir". But regrettably slogans like 'Pakistan Zindabad', Bharat ki barbadi tak jung rahegi were caught at the controversial event. In these context charges of sedition was put on the leader Kanhaiya and 2 other students. Dissent was seen across graduates and professors across the whole domain and domestically. The whole nation appeared in duo colours of support and anger. Others universities like Jadavpur campus showed their indignation by yet again raising hard and perturbing words. A consistent visit of politicians and forces was seen in the campus using students like marionettes and the whole drama touched its height.

But the misery was the way it was handled. The whole incident was politicised. Kanhaiya was attacked by group of advocates in the temple of justice. The word Intolerance reached its peak and the flag of one of the most esteemed university was taken aback. Students were linked to terrorist groups like LeT. Intelligence officers were eyeing evidence of these students association.

Now, what happens when an education background in maligned in black ink of radical sight, charges, custodies, jail etc. How does it sounds when case is registered under IPC Sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) on a 30 year JNU's learner. Is this the democracy of India? Is this written in the worlds most vibrant and brilliant constitution's article? If we would have been blissful under British Raj, would we ever had pitched our voice against British in own nation? Is that anti-nationalism? Dooming an on-going setup doesn't put a question mark on person's faith or his nationality. The video was doctored, so it was like hitting the target without any purpose and blind faithfully. Of course the act of Judicial is never erroneous but we must seek the way they were telling verdict inappropriate, what was their view could have been handled out with discussion not charges. Is this democracy so ferocious in anger of intolerance that is has started being sodium in air? Yes, slogans were not supposed to be upraised but the way it was encountered was horrendous.

Kanhaiya spoke in an interview that-"We want freedom in India, not freedom from India. Concept of nationalism is taken from Europe so let's replace it by 'patriotism' for India due to its diversities. This is democracy where no one can raise finger on anyone's emotion regarding the nationalism. No one can define nationalism for other".

Jawahar Lal Nehru said-"A University stands for humanism. For tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards ever higher objectives." Let's face it; JNU is a gigantic umbrella university accommodating magnanimous student organisations and acknowledged as bastion of free speech. The protestors were too minuscule to be even considered. One might not agree but certainly something to ponder given the way small political activities tend to spoil the sanctity of institutes which are pillars of development.

What happens inside the camps must be let in its air only as outcasts can never know the reality by just peeping in. As a nation, we should create platforms for constructive debates where all voices could be placed, heard and responded and taken constructively. A line must be drawn amid the political parties and student union as both are working for poles apart. Rather than eating basics of democracy; we must commit to knit on Make in India, Beti bachao campaign, Swachh bharat abhiyaan,Namami Gange, Smart city mission etc. Freedom of expression (Art. 19) is gift by democracy but nationalism is in-born reliance which is same for communist control in China and in India's land. No one needs ineludibly be a warrior to express it. Laxity in dealing with adult's thought is a concern that constitutes more than 50% in masses. We need their exultant engrossment in making India developed socially, economically, ideally and incredible in future eyes.

- KUMARI PRIYA RANI