On 4th October 2019, it was widely reported that a case of sedition had been filed against the 49 ’eminent personalities’ who wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi protesting the ‘rising incidents’ of mob lynching and religious hatred in the country after he has been elected. Advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha filed a petition in the court of the Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate seeking action against the signatories of the letter accusing the signatories of sedition, creating a public nuisance and fanning religious hatred. On Thursday, it was on the Court’s direction that the police had then filed a case against the signatories. Now, Shashi Tharoor has written another open letter to the Prime Minister asking him to condemn the filing of the FIR against the ’eminent personalities’ on the direction of the Court, in the name of protection of ‘dissent’.
Urging all those who believe in #FreedomOfExpression to send this or similar letters to @PMOIndia @narendramodi urging him to affirm the constitutional principle of our Article 19 rights & the value of democratic dissent — even if more FIRs follow as a result! #SaveFreeSpeech pic.twitter.com/MDIrros64j
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 8, 2019
The letter written by the 49 ’eminent personalities’ itself was one that rambled on about the same old debunked rhetoric of atrocities against Muslims and Dalits being on the rise. It used fake data that has already been contested from a ‘hate crime tracker’ that has now been pulled down, had a convicted Naxalite as a ‘peace-loving’ signatory, batted for alleged Urban Naxals who are in custody for plotting to kill the Prime Minister and allegedly orchestrating the Koregaon-Bhima violence in Pune and also, summarily ignored how cases of ‘Muslims attacked for not chanting Jai Shree Ram’ turned out to be fake. What it also ignored was the rising crimes against Hindus by members of the minority community.
Now, the letter written by Shashi Tharoor vomits more drivel to defend a letter that was based on utter drivel and even had a convicted Naxalite as a signatory. However, what is most dishonest about the letter by Shashi Tharoor, who is an accused in his wife’s mysterious death, is that he makes it appear as though it was the government that ordered the FIR against the 49 self-proclaimed eminent intellectuals who chose to hanker for publicity by writing absolute lies. The truth is that the FIR was filed at the direction of the Court after a petition was filed by an advocate. The FIR itself had nothing to do with PM Modi or the government. This fact is conveniently glossed over by Tharoor.
Shashi Tharoor in his letter says that without dissent, India risks becoming an authoritarian regime and that PM Modi must come out in ‘support’ of dissent. He also says that those who have views opposed to his must not be deemed as anti-national. What is increasingly evident from Tharoor’s letter is that he considers only the dissent that suits his agenda, as dissent that must be protected. While the letter that was laden with lies is considered as absolute dissent by Tharoor, a citizen’s right to approach the Judiciary in dissent of the dissent is miraculously considered a folly of the Modi government and the Prime Minister himself must condemn if the ‘idea of India’ is to thrive and exist. Such dishonesty in Tharoor’s letter is least shocking since his descent into madness has been fast approaching.
Further, Shashi Tharoor cites the observation by a certain Judge that said ‘dissent is the safety valve of democracy’. Interestingly, this observation by the Court was made while asking the Maharashtra government their reasons for arresting the alleged Urban Naxals, the very people who have been supported in the letter.
While Tharoor cites the infamous ‘dissent is the safety valve of democracy’ observation, he essentially goes on a tirade against an FIR that has been filed on the instruction of the Court itself. It is entirely possible that the instruction of the Court is overturned if appealed, however, for someone who is reiterating the principles of dissent, the sanctity of the Judiciary and the supremacy of the rule of law in the letter, it is interesting that he would want the Prime Minister to publicly denounce and condemn an explicit instruction given by the court to file an FIR against the signatories.
Shashi Tharoor cites a 2016 statement by PM Modi where he said that the Constitution is the real holy book. He then says, “Since when has writing a letter of concern to the elected leader of the country— who is responsible for the welfare of each of its citizen irrespective of its caste, creed, gender, religion or political opinion—become a trigger for an FIR? In the Naya Bharat that you have promised the nation, are FIRs going to be filed every time a citizen is critical of the government or its policies?”.
While falsely insinuating that somehow, the Prime Minister or his government is responsible for the FIR, Tharoor also forgets that approaching the court or any law enforcement agency is also a right that has been enshrined in the very Constitution that he speaks of.
Essentially, Congress leader Tharoor wanted Prime Minister Modi to condemn a court order and a citizen’s right to approach law enforcement agencies as enshrined in the Constitution of India to protect the sacrosanct right of the signatories to dissent against a democratically elected government by basing their allegations on lies and conjecture.
One certainly wonders where Shashi Tharoor’s refined sensibilities vanished when his party was filing FIRs against individuals for making spoof videos of Rahul Gandhi. Congress, that increasingly mirrors the radical Left clearly loves ‘dissent’, but only when it is against their political opponents.