If Liberty means anything at all , it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” George Orwell
This post is not intended to pillories you or accept your version of the incident absolving any culpability in the ghastly suicide that happened in the Collectorate premises.
My concern is only at the utter lack of respect and reverence for democratic and civil rights that, you ought to have, as a senior civil servant shown to Cartoonist Bala who caricatured the incident and the powers that are.
I wonder what you as the candidate at the Civil Service interview would have replied or may have replied to perhaps the question put to you regarding the constitutional provisions guaranteeing free speech and expression. Very curious!
I’m sure that you are not oblivious of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 66A in April 2017. The honourable Court observed in its ruling on the draconian Section 66A thus, “…. it invades right to free speech , every expression used in it is nebulous. It is clear that Section 66 A arbitrarily excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right.”
You by your act ordering the arrest of the cartoonist took a miserably weak position using the tattered apron of Section 66 A to hide like a weasel.. This is the same narrative and reasoning ( if one may call it reasoning) often used by political parties and religious outfits to bludgeon unpleasant truth and satire . The right to offend is a sacrosanct right and if you feel offended by a caricature, a novelette or a statement it only shows the shallowness of your thought and philosophy. Plowing down the author is the easiest way and that is the path weaklings take to.
You showed that there is no difference between an intolerant mind of the Charlie Hebedo killers and folks who hound free speech and expression in this country. To find a civil servant among that unsavoury ranks is a sad thing for this country.
Tell me what difference is there between the act of arresting Cartoonist Bala and decapitating or gunning down people over a caricature? What difference is there between you, arresting cartoonist Bala and the Siva Sena thugs who ensured the arrest of two girls for voicing their disagreement on Facebook over the shutting down Mumbai after Bal Thackrey’s death? What difference is there between your act and that of the mad Ayatollah Khomeini who ordered death for Salaman Rushdie for his magnificent novel? What difference is there between your act and that of the feral bigots in Bangladesh and India who hounded Taslima Nasreen for being candid about the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh in her novel “Shame”? What difference is there between you Mister Sandeep Nanduri and the Hindutva ideology that banished MF Hussain? The list will go on and you may find yourself in a very notorious and depraved company.
This October the centenary of the October Revolution was commemorated by the working class, world over. I wonder if you are aware that , in India the October Revolution worked as a accelerator , a catalyst that actuated progressive literature. This triggered a fecund environment for egalitarian and socialist thoughts in the people. This was heartily harnessed and channelised by the leaders of the Freedom movement too. Indeed the Brits used the draconian legislations to pulverise such expressions in literature. But they survived and stand even today as immortal hand-downs to posterity.
Not so long ago during the pre-independence days expressive people, editors of news papers, social workers were all subjected to banishment by the Brits and their cahoots, the Princes, for their candid speech, writing and literature. It’s a pity that there are remnants of the Raj amongst us today. Now, you underlined that ominous reality through your act of arresting the cartoonist for doing his job. A sad day for Indian democracy and Civil Service!
I will have to remind you the words of Gopal Subramaniam the SC lawyer , he said, “Poetry encouraged fearlessness of expression and this cannot be restricted because of the use of the name of a personality. Freedom to offend is also a part of freedom of speech”.