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Rekindling the message of Bandi Chhor Diwas: stand unwavered for civil rights

C'tsy: SikhExpo

-Parneet Kaur

"The candle burns not for us, but for all those whom we failed to rescue from prison, who were shot on the way to prison, who were tortured, who were kidnapped, who 'disappeared'. That's what the candle is for."

-Peter Berenson, founder of Amnesty International

The ongoing protests of all sorts by MSMEs, tribes or farmers or any minority group have drawn international attention, with the denial of democratic rights to them by the government’s ardent repulsion. The official response of the Ministry of External Affairs was disproportionate to the provocation, merely the reaction of a thick-skinned government. The argument put forth by the government pushed a more fundamental premise: it warned the concerned global voices that these matters — democracy and human rights, are India’s ‘internal affair’. This doesn’t just make the government seem vulnerable but also portrays a cowardly approach toward dogmatic and concerned views.

The Indian law might be blind but so is the government’s treatment towards the atrocities faced by the minority and the marginalised. Be it inhumane custodial torture on not proven guilty activists or dying farmers on protest sites by the entitled sons of just monetary literate politicians. I find it preposterous and gut wrenching to see the leaders of leading political party to openly show their support towards extremist groups whose ideology is exactly what the honourable constitution of India condemns. Maybe the only constitution our “literate” politicians read was the “BUNCH OF THOUGHTS”. So why isn’t sedition applicable on these extremist radicalism promoters? you may ask, it’s a weapon of face saving of the government’s treacherous and malevolent foresightedness and only used to suppress voices of the victims and their families I may answer.

My country promotes free speech, our Respected honourable constitution enshrines the importance of freedom of speech in article 19(1) (a) , Freedom of religion Article 25 , and the freedom of print media to serve unbiased news and critique the wrongs of the government but why does the foundation of my own country seems utopian and euphoric to me ? Why is it that every pen which is picked up to highlight the wicked deeds of the political leaders is silenced forever? Why is every voice which is revolting and ambitious towards the unheard screams of the marginalised , choked with Sedition and UAPA charges? And the media is hard to miss, the nuisance here is the new journalism. God bless the entitled and privileged star kids whose drug problems act as a cover up or a vail on the on the bloody hands of the politicians who committed hit and run and were never charged, or the Dalit women’s rape which was highly a political stunt rather than a call for justice or even the custodial torture of the activist and journalist who didn’t even make the headline because apparently Aryan khan’s dietary needs being unfulfilled in the jail was a more grave issue that utter insult of Human Rights in my country !

On This pious occasion of Bandi Chhor Diwas (The day of liberation) , the very point of the celebration for Sikhs and believers around the globe was when Guru Hargobind Singh Ji , the 6th guru , freed 52 kings from the wicked and sinful emperor Jahangir who tortured them in Gwalior fort for several months . Did he ask the race of the imprisoned kings before freeing them? Did he segregate them on the basis of caste, religion and creed before saving them from the torture? The only Thing that really mattered to him was that they all were humans first, free from the slavery of ascriptive identities. This was the very onset of Human Rights promotion. All we need to do as humans at this pivotal juncture is to turn to each other rather on each other. Trusting the judiciary of our country for justice and staying miles away from violence based on mere identities could be little steps towards a nation free from derogatory and deeming headlines. And for the Hardliners, organising a public press and conference for the first time in 8 years of political majority and promoting secularism, not just when abroad but within your own nation would be a baby step. There’s a lot beyond imprisoning a cricket fan who didn’t support India During the Match. Seeing beyond fragile nationalism is the key!



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