Indian citizens must stand up for freedom of speech

Kanhaiya Kumar was once known as a nationalist with a compelling charisma and all of a sudden, we brand him as an ‘anti-nationalist’?

Gulf News

The recent arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Kanhaiya Kumar ignited a spark within the young academia of New Delhi, and certainly will spread like wildfire in the Indian youth community. The recent protests and the current situation in New Delhi only supports this claim.

I believe this is a clear violation of freedom of speech, and the unjust, authoritative behaviour of the Indian government seems to have no end. I am not saying that what Kumar was doing was totally reasonable, but I strongly think that the government could have dealt with him in a more suitable and just manner. There is a unified consensus among the general public of India that Kumar is innocent and they believe that he should be released immediately, with all charges dropped.

Sedition is a major offence and is compared to the likes of treason which, in Kumar’s case, is completely absurd. He was once known as a nationalist with a compelling charisma and all of a sudden they are branding him as ‘anti-nationalist’? Are the authoritative figures in the Indian government feeling threatened or is it just supposedly for the sake of national security?

The intellectual youths of India understand the importance of freedom of speech, why debates are a positive source of knowledge transfer and how they are essential in understanding all sides. Looking back at the terrorist attack on Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai, there was the certainty of a youth movement against the current government so that young blood would take over and be more suitable in making decisive judgments for the nation. Was that not seen as sedition? Has the Indian government quietly suppressed the issue with time? Should its citizens not stand up now, for themselves?

In my opinion, we Indians embrace a strong emotional side and take it into consideration when it comes to our sense of judgement. This is why I believe the many heated debates presented by Kumar could ignite insurgent behaviour from the general public.

Frankly, the imprisonment of Kumar would probably accelerate that cause, but to what degree? Only time will tell.

— The reader is an Indian student based in Sharjah.

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