Human Rights must be guaranteed in a democracy in order to be a meaningful democracy. Can world’s largest democracy protect the rights of it's citizens by turning blind eye to the present situation and future challenges?
The immediate concern is the sub-judice case by Google and Facebook before Delhi high Court. Actually it is an appeal against lower Court’s order.
It involves showing of objectionable content on it's webpages. This content is created by perverse users registered on these sites. Some viewers complained against it and Court threatened these sites to shut them down in Bharat. Now against that order of lower Court, Google and Facebook have appealed to the Delhi HC.
Second such incident is the happenings at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in Rajasthan. The organizers had invited Salman Rushdie to participate in the JLF. He had agreed to come, and announcement to that effect was made. But some forces started opposing his arrival and protested largely. It was all due to meager chunk of people, who ignited all the community. Government suggested Rushdie to avoid coming to Bharat. Threat to his life was the reason. Who threatened his life? Who issued fatwas? Is our Government so weak that it cannot go ahead to protect a person for some days? Is it really so feeble to bow against some extremist blockheads?
4 authors went ahead and read out passages from ‘Satanic Verses’. Now the Rajasthan Govt is behind them. They left Jaipur abruptly in fear of arrests. So is the state of ‘freedom of speech and expression’.
Infact the Rule of Law in Bharat is sufficient to deal with both the situations. The users who posted and published objectionable content can be very well booked and punished under the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act, 2000. Such is the case with the extremists who say ‘we won’t allow such and such person to enter Bharat’. Are they Govt.? or Constitutional sanctioning authority? Will Govt depend upon their approval? Does it not show absence of sovereignty in the Govt? Thus it is high time now, Govt should deal in strong and stern manner with these non-State actors. Who undermine the sovereignty of Govt. Political will is needed. One cannot expect the ‘vote-hungry crowd’ to discharge the duties properly. ‘Vote-bank greed’ won’t allow you to act rationally.
Like Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen – Bangladeshi writer in exile – faces the same fate. Threats, endless feeling of insecurity, constant danger, frenzied mobs and satanic forces! What is their fault? To speak out against violation of Human Rights? They need to be protected and to be given the freedom to make people aware about the religious fanaticism and ideological extremism.
One can argue very well that the case of M F Hussain was similar to Mr. Rushdie or Shrimati Taslima Nasreen. Why then M F Hussain be condemned and Rushdie and Nasreen be protected and given free hand? This is very attractive argument to defend the case of Hussain. Also it seems valid prima-facie. But one needs to consider some basic difference between the two cases and then arrive at a conclusion.
M F Hussain was himself a Muslim. And he painted Hindu Gods and Goddesses in such a manner which hurt Hindu sentiments. He never painted any other religious figures than Hindu, in derogatory manner – to which some perverts regarded as an ‘art’. But did his ‘art’ prevent him from depicting other religious Gods but Hindu deities? Hence Hussain can be said to be a part of the fashionable cult whose only agenda seems to attack Hindu beliefs in Bharat. Such is not the case with Salman Rushdie and shrimati Taslima Nasreen. They themselves are born in Muslim families and they talk about the dangerous trends in Islam. They wish to eradicate the things detrimental to humanity at large. They need to be given the status of ‘reformationists’. Every religion except Islam has undergone the process of reformation at some or the other point of time. Many have undergone such process more than once. But Islam is an exception.
The thing which opposes reformation ceases to exist. Animals, plants, birds, insects, structures, machines, theories need evolution and reformation to maintain it's existence. Be it a lively or lifeless thing – natural or manmade – change and adaptation to changing environment is a must. How a religion can be exception to this eternal rule?
Thus Islam needs to come out of stagnation and accept new things. Salman Rushdie and shrimati Taslima Nasreen are the voices of billions of oppressed women and compelled children born in Islam. The voice of justified silent sufferers. It should not be suppressed. Humanity ought to give protection to such fearless and courageous ‘reformationists’ and contribute to their relentless efforts for the Herculean task.