Thursday, April 14, 2016

On nationalists and anti-nationals - stand with #JNU & #KanhaiyaKumar

My refusal to be a nationalist does not make me anti-national.

Just by way of comment on the semantics and misuse of language in this entire JNU issue.

I am not a nationalist, I have refused to be a nationalist ever since I understood the meaning of nationalism in university.

But that does not mean that I am anti-national. I believe in human rights, in justice including social justice, in liberty, in equality, in democracy, I value our constitutional freedoms and rights, I am an Indian though sometimes I wonder if that is a curse. I am anti-war, anti-imperialist, against exploitation of people, anti-corruption, anti-propaganda. I vehemently speak and defend the truth. For me the truth is everything.

So just because I refuse to be a nationalist does not make me anti-national.

Apparently now merely shouting slogans for azadi is a seditious act. Freedom is my birthright and I shall have it - this sentiment apparently was supposed to have ended in 1947. Indians have needed to fight for their freedom in myriad ways everyday since 1947 to today. So is shouting inquilab zindabad also a seditious act.

Kanhaiya Kumar has also been targeted with doctored videos and photo-shopped pictures to misrepresent what he said or did.

Watch the doctored azadi slogans video at

Watch the actual azadi slogans video at

Kanhaiya must not just apply for bail, he must challenge his unlawful detention in violation of his right to free speech under Article 19 on the basis of non-existent and fabricated evidence as vendetta for his critique of BJP and RSS politics and for exposing police brutality outside the RSS headquarters.



He must also challenge the constitutional vires of Section 124A IPC. There are grounds to do it, given that Police Commissioner B S Bassi himself and Home Ministers Rajnath Singh and Kiren Rijiju themselves have interpreted Section 124A in a manner that violates Article 19.

He can only effectively do all this under Article 32 before the Supreme Court.

Lawyers especially need to be particularly careful about the language they use. Patiala House lawyers and the marching lawyers contingent (19 February) kept denouncing Kanhaiya Kumar as gaddar and desh-drohi. 

Note that Kanhaiya Kumar has not waged war on the State. He has not committed treason. He is only detained not even charged yet under the sedition provision 124A IPC. Evidence shows that he shouted slogans peacefully with no call for violence to overthrow the India State. So obviously the crime of sedition is not made out.  

Now some JNU students might reject the BJP and RSS discourse on nationalism but that does not make them anti-national. 

Also no law exists in India which makes it a crime to be "anti-national". If such a law were ever enacted it would be struck down as being unconstitutional. 

As lawyers we must appreciate these distinctions and these nuances of constitutional law.

A little off-topic but relevant. 

We've seen this before ... people like Afzal Guru, Yakub Memon, Kasab etc denied a fair and open trial and having to undergo trial with inadequate legal representation because lawyers have rioted or resorted to violence and demanded that no lawyer represent a terrorist. 

But how come no lawyers were upset by Mahesh Jethmalani (a BJP leader) representing David Headley or by lawyers representing Sanjay Dutt in the Bombay bomb blasts case. 

For me the pardon granted to David Headley and supported by the Indian (BJP) Government is the most anti-national of acts. Why did the lawyer community which wears its nationalism on its sleeve not get offended by David Headley being pardoned. 

Before anyone claims this pardon was necessary to secure his testimony, let me point out first that Headley was legally obligated to testify in his India trial whether he wanted or not under his plea agreement with the US government.

A close associate of Narendra Modi, actor Anupam Kher has introduced language comparing the "anti-national" students to cockroaches, insects and ants and the process of targeting them to pest control of the nation. 

This was Nazi lingo for Jews. 

These are extraordinary times and I hope the Supreme Court responds to the situation. 

The failure to carry out the Supreme Court's directions in Patiala House on 17th February by the Modi Government and the Delhi Police (Bassi incidentally visited the PMO that morning and emerged even more arrogant and imperious) looks like deliberate defiance of the Supreme Court by the executive. 

Bassi said things like aage aage dekho hota hai kya on that morning and the possibility of his appointment as information commissioner was leaked that same day, which thankfully has now been scuttled after public outrage. 

I hope the Supreme Court Judges come down strongly against the emerging fascist tendencies in the State (read the BJP Government) as well as in some right-wing communities. 

The Police has also become a law unto itself and as legislative reforms are not on the horizon, some exercise of judicial power against a person like Bassi would do a lot of good. The Supreme Court should haul up Bassi for contempt of court. 


- Seema Sapra 

Watch JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar Speech against RSS before arrested || 2016


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