On 26th January, 1950 was born a certain ideal. In 1973, I thought it had come of age so as to protect Indian democracy for years to come. It sufferred a temprary setback in 1977-78 but regained statuture in 1982 and lived on for a long time since.The beginning of its end started in 1994 with Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab and unfortunately I dont think the ideal of Habeas Corpus embodied in the Indian Constitution would last long now.
The very notion of Habeas Corpus and what I would term as the baton of civil liberties in the Indian Constitution has been downplayed ever since terrorism has been it toll on the countries security that I’m aghast at the way an Indian citizen is giving away his liberties and rights in the abstract concept of security. I was not born before 1987, but had surely heard of street protests in Delhi after the emergency in support of this right. Unfortunately for democracy, nobody stands up now in protest of Government’s move to bring in more stringent laws on terrorism. It is sad that many people have lost their lives in terrorist attacks, but the answer to that does not lie in taking away civil liberties.
Adlai Stevenson in his speech in 1952 titled ‘Nature of Patriotism’ wrote that the tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. He said that too often sinister threats to the Bill of rights, to the freedom of mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti- communism. Today this cloak is that of anti- terrorism. It plagues me to even fathom the thought of the Indian citizen being so nonchalant about his or her rights being taken away in the garb of peace and security.
Binayak Sen is in jail for ‘being a Maoist’. All he had was a penknife in his bag to be branded as one. Now every NGO and civil society member in the Country is standing up for him. Around the same time, when I was in Chattisgarh, countless people were beaten up and even killed by the state forces for allegedly being naxalites; not many know of it or stood up for them. However, its ironic that in a country of laws that its so easy to be branded as an enemy of the state. The anti terrorist laws (POTA, TADA and UAPA) give the discretion to the District Magistrate to declare any person as a terrorist or any area as a terrorist affected area. The discretion is so wide that its not possible to argue against it in a court of law. I would ask of anyone of you to come to Canada where I’m presently and witness the passion with which a Canadian talks about his ‘Bill of Rights’ and hangs the document on a wall in his house. In a country of 1 Billion people, i dont think there are many who know of the fundamental rights in the Constitution.
On a parting note, I’d not want any reader to confuse my dissent with disloyalty. But with time, I’m losing my respect for the Indian goverment for its laws and the Indian citizen for his nonchalance.