Two tier free speech : the magical hypocrisy of Javed Akhtar

The day was August 11, 2012. The place was Azad Maidan in Mumbai and certain peaceful folks had assembled there to express their dissent. Here is the Amar Jawan Jyoti getting a taste of the delicious culture of dissent in our dear democracy:

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Apparently not content with  ransacking, arson and showing off their expert dance moves, the rioters proceeded to molest policewomen on duty at the spot.

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It should be noted here that the Mumbai Police had received instructions from the highest levels not to interfere with the activities of the rampaging mob. Believe it or not, the Mumbai Police actually received praise from the elite Indian Express for giving the rioters a free run.

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Who knew that giving a free run to rioters is the moral duty of the police and something that “heals wounds” and opens “a new chapter”? No wonder that the authors of this article are Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, two of the most infamous history-sheeters of secularism.

One policewoman who was there at Azad Maidan that August day in 2012 felt outraged. Really really outraged. Her name is Sujata Patil and  she came home and poured her angst into a poem.

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The secular establishment hit her like a ton of bricks, with even a writ petition! Listen to what the man of melodies had to say about Sujata Patil’s right to pen down a poem:

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See how smoothly the liberal establishment operates? Giving a free hand to rioters heals wounds, but a woman police officer who writes a poem expressing her outrage about “izzat lut rahi thi” has to be sacked! In case you are wondering, Sujata Patil did manage to save her job, but only just. She had to tender a grovelling apology.

It is not clear whether Sujata Patil thought of starting a hashtag to put forth her view on the Azad Maidan riots.

Those were different times then. The correct people were in power and freedom of speech didn’t matter as much. Or as Ravish Kumar would have put it, “बागों में बहार थी ” | 

How things change! Freedom of speech matters now. Only selectively of course:

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Except, the people he refers are not trying to perform heart surgery. They are just exercising their right to express themselves in this democratic system we live in. To exercise the right to free speech, you need no special qualification. You don’t have to be born a certain way, have a certain education, or make a certain amount of money. You just have to be a person. That’s the whole point of free speech. It’s universal. You don’t have to be somebody to exercise it.

Evidently, those who are already “somebody”, or those who think of themselves as “qualified somebodies” don’t like this arrangement one bit.

Evidently, that’s not what the magical Javed saab wants. Let’s not be hesitant to unpack what he is really saying. What he is advocating is a two tier system of  speech. The upper tier will consist of people who, in his view, have a certificate to exercise free speech. You know, like a surgeon. The other, lower tier shall consist of persons who he deems “hardly literate” and should not have free speech rights.

We in the right wing always suspected this. But we owe Javed saab a token of appreciation for laying it out so clearly.

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

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