(Shuddhabrata Sengupta has written eloquently his account of the day-long seminar, ‘Azadi: The Only Way’. The seminar was organised by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners. Given below are CRPP’s minutes of the seminar. You can also see, on YouTube, two short videos showing the ruckus that some Kashmiri Pandits created before Syed Ali Shah Geelani was to speak (1, 2). Also on YouTube, in two parts (1, 2), is Arundhati Roy’s speech, for which some want her booked for sedition. Those on Facebook can also see most of SAS Geelani’s speech (1, 2, 3). A small part of Geelani’s speech is on Youtube, here. Those hurling abuses at Roy and Geelani would do well to read this text, see these videos, and engage with these ideas intellectually, instead of asking for individuals to be jailed and persecuted.)
Despite the many thoughtful critiques of the relationship between family and the state, I have always found it a little surprising that there is very little commentary on the relationship between two strange legal fictions. The first is the idea of the restitution of conjugal rights (RCR), and the other is sedition. The restitution of conjugal rights basically consists of the right of a spouse to demand that his or her- though more often his than her- spouse cohabit with him after she has ‘withdrawn from his society’. Away from the misty world of legal euphemisms, we all know what this means: that you can be forced to sleep with a somewhat less than pleasant person against your wishes. A legal commitment to love in a marriage is a serious thing indeed which only warns us that we must proceed with such a choice very carefully.
But like many marriages, the question of choice is somewhat restricted for many people- as is indeed the case of the choice of loving your country. After all isn’t sedition a crime of passion, and the punishment of an offence of the withdrawal of love for your nation. It is interesting to see that while treason in Sec. 121 of the IPC is about the waging of war against the state, sedition is about a forced love. It is about the creation of ‘disaffection’. As Nivedita Menon points out in her post, disaffection means “the absence or alienation of affection or goodwill; estrangement”.
A legal commitment to love your nation is also a serious thing indeed, and what then is the punishment of sedition if not, the restitution of the conjugal rights of the state?
Sedition: the attempt “to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India”, a crime under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code, a provision introduced by the British colonial government in 1860.
The only revisions to this colonial legal provision since its passing have been over the years, to remove anachronistic terms like “Her Majesty”, “the Crown Representative”, “British India”, “British Burma” and “Transportation for life or any shorter term”.
But it seems “Disaffection towards the government”, the archaic usage notwithstanding, is a timeless crime. Section 124A, therefore, these few cosmetic changes apart, has remained unchanged for the last 150 years.
This is a guest post by BARUN DAS GUPTA
The detractors of Arundhati Roy have found a fresh casus belli against her for her recent speech (Oct. 21) in New Delhi, on Kashmir. The participants in the polemics include such intellectuals as Swapan Dasgupta, a journalist and a BJP leader. The burden of their criticism is that Arundhati should be arrested for sedition because by her speeches she has caused hatred and disaffection towards the Government and actually championed the secession of a part of India, that is, Jammu and Kashmir.
Let us examine this matter of “creating hatred and disaffection” towards the Government, not from the legal point of view but from the political point of view. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code says: “Whoever brings or attempts to bring in hatred, contempt or excites disaffection towards the Government shall be punished ……” Before proceeding further, let us note that the concerned section speaks of “disaffection towards the Government”, without specifying whether by “Government” the Central Government is meant or the State Governments. Since there is no explanation, it may be inferred that “Government” means both Central and State Governments. Continue reading Sedition provision gags free speech: Barun Das Gupta
Given the need to show ‘results’ in Chhattisgarh, the police are pulling some unlikely rabbits out of still stranger hats. The latest is Lingaram Kodopi, tipped by the police to be “Azad’s successor”, but as Jefferson Airplane reminds , If you go chasing rabbits…
The following piece appeared in The Hindu under the joint by-line of Aman Sethi and Smita Gupta.
Guest post by ROHINI HENSMAN
‘Far away, in that other fake democracy called India’: so said Arundhati Roy in a passing reference to India when she began her talk at the finale of the Left Forum 2010 in New York in the middle of March. Fake democracy? Yet in the same month her long essay ‘Walking With the Comrades,’ supporting the struggle of the CPI (Maoist) in the tribal areas, was published by a mainstream, corporate-controlled Indian magazine, Outlook. How would that be possible if India were just a ‘fake’ democracy? By way of a comparison, across the border in Sri Lanka, the March issue of Himal Southasian was seized by customs on account of an article of mine, despite the fact that I have always been sharply critical of the insurgencies of the LTTE and JVP, and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as sympathetic to terrorism or violence. Earlier editions of Himal with articles by writers critical of both the government and the LTTE have suffered the same fate. My articles have been turned down by one newspaper after another in Sri Lanka, and I do not blame their editors and owners: so many journalists, editors and owners who have been critical of the regime in power have been jailed, killed or disappeared, even if they, too, had been critical of the LTTE. Continue reading Getting Indian Democracy Right: Rohini Hensman
SOUMITRA GHOSH is with the National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers (NFFPFW). A guest post received via Dilip Simeon
Does the Outlook article [by Arundhati Roy] tell us anything new? The Maoists have built a dream world in Dandakaranya, and the gun has heralded that dream. The Green Hunt is meant to shatter this dream, period…Apart from good anecdotes, there’s no political analysis of the movement, and the problematique of the Maoist movement was cursorily mentioned.
It seems rationality is banished. You oppose Green Hunt means that you see in the Maoists an unending series of dreamers and visionaries, and the making of a new world order. She doesn’t even bother to be historical, the history is what her contacts tell her.
What is utterly unacceptable is this woolly-headed,mushy and journalistic portrayal of a political movement. The Maoist movement was never,and won’t be a ‘adivasi’ movement,in the sense we use the term to describe a range of social movements.